Character Evolution

Exploring genomic, physiological, phenotypic and ecological traits to understand the drivers and processes underpinning global plant and fungal diversity.


Team lead: Dr Ilia Leitch

Investigating the evolution of plant and fungal traits and their responses to global change.

The Character Evolution team conducts research on specific traits that cut across plant and fungal lineages. We focus on a wide range of genomic, structural, chemical and ecological traits within a comparative evolutionary framework to understand the drivers and processes underpinning global plant and fungal diversity.

Our research uses diverse datasets associated with Kew’s scientific and living collections. Ongoing collecting and digitisation activities are contributing to the growth of these publicly available datasets.

We aim to analyse our data with increasingly sophisticated phylogenetic and ecological modelling approaches. This will lead to a greater understanding of how different traits interact and evolve to generate plant and fungal diversity, how key traits can influence or be influenced by evolutionary and ecosystem processes, and how these insights can predict plant and fungal responses to global environmental change. 

Team members

Assistant head of Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Dr Ilia Leitch

Research leader
Dr Jaume Pellicer

Career development fellow
Dr Gerhard Prenner

Early career development fellows
Dr Sidonie Bellot
Dr Jan Hackel

Visiting researcher
Professor Jonathan Wendel

Honorary research associates
Professor Richard Bateman
Dr Oriane Hidalgo

Honorary research fellows
Professor Michael David Bennett
Peter Brandham

PhD students
Marie Henniges
Luca Pegoraro


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