Plant material ready for DNA extraction

Botanic Garden of Wales leads on plant DNA

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Botanic Garden of Wales leads on plant DNA

The National Botanic Garden of Wales was opened in May 2000. The garden is located by Llanartheny in the Towy Valley, Carmarthenshire. The garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for scientific botanic research and conservation. It has the world’s largest single-span glasshouse designed by Lord Foster measuring 110m in length and 60 metres in width. The glasshouse has the best display of Mediterranean climate zone plants in the Northern Hemisphere.


Since 2000 over 2.5 million people have visited the garden in order to view and learn about the plants and its scientific research projects linked to conservation. The garden has an amazing collection of over 8000 different plant varieties spread over 560 acres of countryside.


The National Botanic Garden of Wales is leading the way for the DNA barcoding of plants. Wales was the first nation in the world to DNA all of its native flowering plants and conifers. This information provides scientists with a huge resource to research into biodiversity conservation and human health through the Barcode of Life Database. It will be possible to compare unknown DNA sequences in the database in order to find out what plant they have come from.


The DNA barcoding activity undertaken at the garden has a number of potential applications to help scientists in the future. Examples include the following.


  • Understanding the habitat needs of endangered animals finding out what plants they eat.
  • Reconstructing historical landscapes based on seeds and soil profiles.
  • Research into hay fever by identifying the pollen in the atmosphere.
  • Research into where honeybees are foraging.


The scientific work undertaken at the garden is recognised on a national and international stage. Currently the are busy DNA barcoding the rest of UK flora and are involved in international projects on rainforest ecology.


Why not take the opportunity to visit the gardens to see for yourself?


Conservation is the care and protection of natural resources for future generations.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the molecule that contains the genetic code of life.
Flora is the Latin word for "flower".
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the top half of Earth that is north of the Equator.
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