Dr Anne Visscher

Research Fellow


Trait Diversity and Function


Seed and Stress Biology


Understanding (global) diversity of seed traits involved in dormancy and survival of (extreme) environmental conditions (both natural and ex situ) on Earth and in space

My research at Kew covers three main topics:

Global diversity of seed traits:

I am currently a Research Fellow in the Global Tree Seed Bank Programme funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation. As part of this programme, I am studying natural variation in seed coat hardness of woody species representing over 700 plant genera. The aim of this research is to understand the reasons for the natural diversity in this trait, with a particular focus on physical dormancy.

Seed storage survival:

In addition, I am studying whether seed volatile release under low pressure is associated with seed survival in space environments. This programme is funded by the UK Space Agency and is part of the pre-flight experiments needed for the GENESISS project (Germination after Extreme Natural Exposure of Seeds on the International Space Station), which was selected for spaceflight by the European Space Agency (flight dates to be determined).

Seed dormancy and stress tolerance:

Other research interests include seed tolerance of extreme temperatures, such as the resilience of succulent Aizoaceae and Cactaceae species to extremely hot and dry desert conditions, which may also break seed dormancy.

  • PhD, Univ. Florida (USA), 2009
  • BSc & MSc, Wageningen Univ. (Netherlands), 2003

Visscher, A. M., Boatfield, M., Klak, C., et al. (2022)

Physiological seed dormancy of Ruschia imbricata and Ruschia uitenhagensis (Aizoaceae) is broken by dry heat and unaffected by seasonality.

South African Journal of Botany 147: 457-466.

Gomez-Cabellos, S., Toorop, P. E., Cañal, M. J., Iannetta, P. P. M., Fernandez Pascual, E., Pritchard, H. W. & Visscher, A. M. (2021)

Global DNA methylation and cellular 5-methylcytosine and H4 acetylated patterns in primary and secondary dormant seeds of Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik. (shepherd’s purse).

Protoplasma 259:595-614.

Visscher, A. M., Latorre Frances, A., Yeo, M., et al. (2021)

Comparative analyses of extreme dry seed thermotolerance in five Cactaceae species.

Environmental and Experimental Botany 188: 104514

Visscher, A.M., Yeo, M., Gomez Barreiro, P., et al. (2018)

Dry heat exposure increases hydrogen peroxide levels and breaks physiological seed coat-imposed dormancy in Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (Aizoaceae) seeds

Environmental and Experimental Botany 155: 272-280.

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Anne Visscher

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Anne Visscher