In Vitro Laboratory

Initiation and maintenance of in vitro plant and fungal cultures for the purposes of research, propagation and conservation.

Plants propagated in jars in vitro

Using established and novel techniques, the In Vitro Biology laboratory raises plant and fungal cultures for studies in physiology, morphology and endophyte biology as well as propagation for recalcitrant taxa or rare or otherwise desirable plants.

We support national and international plant conservation activities by producing propagules for reintroduction. Emphasis is placed on Orchidaceae as a family that requires in vitro culture to raise plants from seed, whether symbiotically or asymbiotically.

We also develop cryopreservation protocols for threatened, non seed-bearing taxa and fungal endophytes. We currently store bryophytes, ferns and orchid mycorrhizal fungi from the UK, UK Overseas Territories and Madagascar. 

Access to the laboratory is generally through a grant-funded project with a Kew co-PI that aligns with Kew’s strategic aims.

Available facilities:

  • Dedicated Growth Room, 12m2. Air conditioned to 22C +/-2C. Daylight spectrum LED lights at 100µmol m-2 s-1 PPFD on 16/8h photoperiod.
  • Cooled incubators x 7 with programmable photoperiod and dual temperature cycling.
  • Culture Transfer Room with fluorescence and light microscopes.
  • Liquid nitrogen storage dewars for small-scale experimental cryopreservation and long-term fungal culture and plant storage.

Laboratory staff and researchers have expertise in the following

  • Initiation and maintenance of plant cultures (special expertise in symbiotically or asymbiotically raised orchids).
  • Extraction, isolation and maintenance symbiotic fungi cultures (especially orchid symbionts).
  • Bulk generation of plants using semi-solid media or temporary immersion systems.
  • Establishing cryopreservation protocols for plant and fungal material and maintaining collections in liquid nitrogen.
  • Use of carbon dioxide enrichment systems for enhanced in vitro plant growth.


Please contact our Laboratory manager Dr Geoffrey Kite


Discover more

  • In Vitro Collection

    In Vitro Collection

    Our In Vitro Collection contains 6,000 plant and fungal specimens that have been cultured in artificial growing media. 

  • Grasses and savannas of Madagascar

    Mycorrhizal research supports orchid conservation in Madagascar

    Did you know that Madagascar is home to more than 1,000 species of orchid? Read more.