Seed Biology Laboratories

Home to a wide of range of facilities to enable our seed research.

Two researchers in the x-ray room within the MSB

Our Seed Biology Laboratories are based at Wakehurst, within the Millennium Seed Bank building, and offer a variety of options for seed research.

We have a wide range of facilities that allow seed ripening, drying, processing and germination testing along with low temperature storage and cryopreservation capabilities.

In addition, we have a selection of microscopy and imaging techniques that include digital x-ray analysis. Our laboratories are equipped with instruments to undertake biochemistry, biophysical, chemical and molecular analyses.

Our in vitro facilities, as well as the selection of growth chambers which offer a range of temperature and humidity conditions, are used for plant development studies. 

Use of the Seed Biology Laboratories, can also include access to the Seed Collections (subject to appropriate permissions), which holds, at present, over 39,000 species

The laboratory management team can assist with project design, planning and analysis of results. Our available facilities support both the strategic outputs of the Kew Science Strategy such as many of the cutting-edge science research projects currently being undertaken within Kew and with partners, for example low temperature storage of recalcitrant species and seed longevity studies.

Facilities and equipment 

Seed ripening/drying and cleaning

  • Humidification rooms set at 60%RH and 75%RH
  • International standard dry room at 15°C/15%RH
  • Seed cleaning lab

Microscopy and images

  • Ergonomic stereomicroscopes
  • Axiocam digital imaging (micro & macro)
  • Refrigerated microtome
  • Digital x-ray

Moisture determination    

  • Equilibrium relative humidity sensors
  • Igasorb moisture sorption generator
  • Gravimetric moisture contents

Seed germination

  • 45 x temperature and light controlled cabinets (0°C to 40°C range with alternating temperatureoptions)
  • 2 x thermogradient plates
  • Germination scoring Lab

Comparative longevity/seed ageing

  • Seed ageing ovens 40°C, 50°C, 60°C, 70°C and 80°C
  • Variable humidity conditions
  • Climate controlled chamber

Chemical analysis

  • High pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Gas chromatography mass spectropscopy (GCMS)
  • UV Spectrophotometer

Molecular analysis

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and electrophoresis tanks/quantitative PCR
  • Spectrophotometer/UV light box and UV cross linker
  • UV/chemiluminescence gel and blot scanner


  • Differential scanning calorimeter (DSC)
  • Dynamic mechanical analyser (DMA)
  • Time domain nuclear magnetic resonance (TD-NMR)
  • Puncture Force Mechanical analysis

Cryobiology and low temperature storage

  • -180°C cryo-stores
  • Liquid nitrogen storage
  • Ultra low temperature freezers -10°C to -80°C
  • Planar programmable freezer

In vitro studies

  • Laminar flow cabinets
  • Benchtop autoclaves
  • Temperature and light controlled cabinets
  • Growth chambers with programmable temperature/humidity and light levels


Accommodation and residential facilities are also available for visiting researchers.


For more information please contact our Laboratory manager John Adams.



Discover more

  • Researcher wearing large protective coat, holding jar of seeds, in the vault of the Millennium Seed Bank

    Millennium Seed Bank

    Our Millennium Seed Bank is home to over 39,000 species and is the largest and most diverse wild plant species genetic resource in the world.

  • Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst

    Seed Collection

    An accessible resources for research, and for the creation of sustainable solutions to global challenges.