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The DNA and Tissue Bank at Kew

The Kew DNA and Tissue Collection contains approximately 48,000 samples of plant genomic DNA and over 11,000 silica dried tissue samples (as at the beginning of year 2018), stored at -80°C for DNA and room temperature for silica dried plant tissue. DNA samples can be requested from Kew using this site. The fees assessed do not imply that DNA samples are being purchased, but rather this fee is meant to offset the cost of producing the sample and maintaining and shipping it. Kew's standard terms of supply (see MTA form) restrict commercial use of the DNA supplied.

As many broad studies have been conducted in Kew, we have extracts representing all major plant groups within the collection as well as a significant (and growing) number of tissue samples which can be extracted as requested. The Bank reflects the work done at Kew, and we therefore have a particularly numerous orchid collection with around 6,500 DNA samples. We also have a number of samples from rare and endangered species. Finally, there are multiple representatives within some species that are used in population study projects, but these are only available upon special request. Plant material is databased with information on names, collectors, localities etc, this website enables a search to be carried out using family, genus, collector, country or voucher location, or any combination of these. Usually a sample has an associated herbarium specimen. It is our aim to facilitate taxonomic and evolutionary studies world-wide and DNA samples have been widely distributed to collaborators all over world.

The great majority of these DNA samples are of high molecular weight and reasonable concentration. As noted in the quality column, some are degraded because the plant tissue was not dried properly; others are dilute as some taxa never produce much DNA. We thus make no claims about the quality or concentration of these samples nor how these samples can be used (degraded samples are not suitable for AFLP, for example). Generally, extracted DNA samples are reasonably free of RNA and Taq-inhibitory chemistry, but in some cases further cleaning and concentration by means of a silica-based column may be necessary before amplification can be achieved. We are happy to advise about any problems that might be encountered.

The amount of DNA sent is suitable for PCR-based techniques (typically about 25 µl). If you require a greater amount of DNA, this may be possible, but you should contact us to discuss this (dnaBank@kew.org). Use the search tool to put together a list of requirements. Should a sample be unavailable, you can request a sample to be extracted for you (follow the Extraction of new samples link to do this).

Aims of the DNA and Tissue Collection

Kew is committed to honouring the letter and the spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and its agreements with partner countries, and accordingly some material is restricted. Our aim, over the next few years, is to extract DNA from (and voucher) all plant species grown at Kew. We also bank samples that are extracted from Kew collecting-expeditions around the world, if we have permission from the country of origin to do so. Here samples are collected and dried in the field using silica gel before being brought back for accession into the collection. Finally, extractions are made from tissue sampled from existing herbarium sheets in situations in which other sources are not available.

For species listed by CITES, we are unable to accept orders from institutions which are not CITES registered and from countries without a CITES authority.