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The DNA and Tissue Collection

The Kew DNA and Tissue Collection contain approximately 50,000 samples of plant genomic DNA and over 15,000 silica dried tissue samples (as at the beginning of the year 2020), stored at -80°C for DNA and low humidity room temperature for silica dried plant tissue. As many broad studies have been conducted in Kew, we have samples representing all major plant groups within the collection. We have a particularly numerous orchid collection with around 6,500 DNA samples and samples from rare and endangered species. Usually, a sample has an associated herbarium specimen. Finally, there are multiple representatives used in population study projects, but these are only available upon special request.


Requesting DNA samples for research

DNA samples can be requested from Kew using this site or via email ( The processing and postage 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. The research sample processing fee is £15 for DNA samples already extracted in the collection or £25 for samples not presently in the collection or requiring extraction. Kew's standard terms of supply (see MTA form) restrict commercial use of the DNA supplied.

The great majority of these DNA samples are of high molecular weight and reasonable concentration. As noted in the quality column, some are degraded, others are dilute either due to the preservation and storage techniques of some source material (e.g. herbarium specimens) or other intrinsic factors that inhibit extraction of high-quality DNA from particular species. 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, this may be possible, contact us ( to discuss this. Should a sample be unavailable in our collection, but available elsewhere in other Kew collections, you may request a sample to be extracted. Contact the team directly ( to discuss your requirements.

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


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.
  • It is our aim to facilitate taxonomic and evolutionary studies world-wide and DNA samples have been widely distributed to international collaborators.
  • Our purpose 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.
  • When living or silica dried tissue is not available, extractions may be made from material removed from existing herbarium sheets.
  • Finally, we aim to improve best practice methodology in botanical biobanking both locally and internationally via Global Genome Biodiversity Network.