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Kew Science blog

Explore some of the research and activities of our global science and conservation programmes. Keep up to date with current developments in Kew science and science policy.
Scans produced with 10x objective and extended depth of field showing transverse sections: (L>R) Swietenia humilis (standard hardwood) and Dalbergia retusa (non-standard hardwood) (Photo: A.Musson)
26th October 2015

Digitising Kew's microscope slide collection

Members of Kew's Lab-based Collections team describe the first steps in the process of digitising Kew's large and diverse microscope slide collection, which includes thin sections of leaves, stems, roots, wood, flowers and pollen.

The Marama bean, Tylosema esculentum (Photo: T.Ulian)
15th October 2015

The UN Sustainable Development Goals and Kew’s Science

Following the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015, which took place at the end of September, Paul Wilkin explains how Kew is making a significant contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goals through its biodiversity science. Kew will use the goals as a focus of its science activities during the 15 year time frame.

Combretum fragrans seeds
12th October 2015

Sowing the seeds of science for our future

Director of Kew, Richard Deverell, explains why 2015 feels like it may end up being a watershed year for the environment, and how when science and politics come together in harmony, great things can be achieved.

Cortinarius uraceisporus, a webcap recently described as new to science from Finland (Photo: K.Liimatainen)
9th October 2015

Celebrating the importance of mycological research

Although Kew is mostly known for its work on plants, a large part of the research is focused on the diversity and importance of fungi. Pepijn Kooij explains how mycologists at Kew are working to understand a wide variety of topics in fungal biology and the importance of fungi for plant diversity.

Specimens in Kew's Fungarium
9th October 2015

Introducing Kew's Fungarium and its treasures

Lee Davies, Fungarium Collections Assistant, introduces Kew’s Fungarium, which represents the most comprehensive collection of fungi in the world and is one of only several collections of fungi with a dedicated research team.

Lab-based Collections Team
28th September 2015

An introduction to Kew's DNA and Tissue Collection

The Lab-based Collections team at Kew describe the DNA and Tissue Collection and its relationship to the wider scientific community.

Magnolia stellata, a member of Magnolia subgenus Yulania (Image: G. Kite)
14th September 2015

Magnolias, molecules and memories

Compounds new to science have been discovered in magnolia flowers thanks to Kew's small molecule analysis facilities, as Analytical Methods manager, Geoffrey Kite, explains.

Shrubs of Skytanthus acutus (Apocynaceae) in the flowering desert, June 2015 (Photo: M.Way)
7th September 2015

Rainfall reveals botanical treasure in the Chilean Atacama Desert

After more than a decade of botanical exploration in the north of Chile, scientists from Kew and the Agricultural Research Institute of Chile (INIA) have secured unique seed collections for the Millennium Seed Bank.

A day in the life of a botanical curator
24th August 2015

A day in the life of a botanical curator

Professor Kathy Willis (Director of Science) pays tribute to Kew’s curators and the huge range of roles they fill, taking inspiration from a poem written by Lesley Walsingham, Assistant Curator, Asia Team.

Cover of the book, using illustrations of medicinal plants drawn by the Yanomami researchers
10th August 2015

Medicinal knowledge in the Amazon

As the Yanomami of Brazil publish their traditional medicinal knowledge for the first time, in collaboration with Kew, William Milliken explores the transfer of traditional knowledge both within and outside traditional communities.

Collecting seed of Agave schawii ssp. goldmaniana for the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Baja, Mexico (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)
3rd August 2015

Safe for the future: seed conservation standards

Elinor Breman reflects on the development and implementation of seed conservation standards across the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership network.

Maesa ramentacea, a species of tropical Primulaceae (Photo: T. Utteridge).
20th July 2015

More than cowslips: Primulaceae goes tropical

Our improved understanding of plant evolution has resulted in changes to many well-known families. Here, Tim Utteridge and Ruth Bone discuss their Primulaceae research, including the expansion of the family to include several tropical woody members.

The Lubango Escarpment in SW Angola – an area of high diversity and endemism still revealing new species (Photo: D. Goyder)
6th July 2015

Angola’s hidden flora

Botanist David Goyder describes how Kew’s inventory work and recent participation in a major international expedition to Angola is helping to address gaps in our knowledge of plant diversity in southern Africa.

Transverse section of Geonoma pinnatifrons subsp. vaga, a palm, showing the vascular bundles in detail. Although woody, this tissue is not secondary xylem (Photo: P. Gasson)
29th June 2015

Wood identification supports legal timber trade

Kew botanist Peter Gasson reveals the key role that wood identification plays in supporting the legal trade of timber and its products.

Village technicians' tree nursery for the Great Green Wall in Djibo, Burkina Faso (Photo: M Sacande)
17th June 2015

Combating desertification

Kew’s work on the Great Green Wall initiative is highlighted by Moctar Sacande, to mark the United Nations’ World Day to Combat Desertification.

Expedition vehicle stuck in mud
8th June 2015

Conserving Madagascar’s orchids

Recent research into orchid mycorrhizal fungi, and why this work is crucial for orchid conservation and habitat restoration in Madagascar, is revealed by Kew scientist Kaz Yokoya.

Inga edulis in flower (Photo: G Lewis)
1st June 2015

Developing an identification key for the economically important genus Inga

Kew placement student Joe Bishop describes his work developing a quick and reliable tool for identifying species of Inga, an economically important tree genus native to Central and South America.

22nd May 2015

Linking plant conservation and sustainable development

To mark International Day for Biological Diversity 2015, Tiziana Ulian highlights some of Kew’s projects relating to this year’s theme – Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.

Booklouse (Liposcelis bostrychophila)
12th May 2015

Battle of the booklice

Kew’s Herbarium and Library are fighting an ongoing battle with pest insects that can feast on dried plant specimens and precious books. Jonathan Farley and Paul Green reveal how they are tackling these infestations.

Small pugnacious ants (Anoplolepis steingroeveri) swarming a Leucospermum seed as they move it back to their nest (Photo: Adam J M Devenish).
6th May 2015

Invasion of Argentine ants

Iconic South African plants may be under threat from invasive Argentine ants. Kew scientist Adam Devenish investigates.