Current project: Banking the flora of Kyrgyzstan

Funder: Bentham Moxon Foundation, the Merlin Trust and tbc

Kyrgyzstan (officially the Kyrgyz Republic) lies at the heart of the Mountains of Central Asia Biodiversity Hotspot. It is home to a highly diverse flora, which includes around 4,000 seed bearing plant species, of which about 10% are endemic.  A number of these species contain biologically active natural compounds of great potential value to medicine.

The MSB has a partnership agreement with the Institute of Biotechnology, within the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences and we have been working together to bank the seeds of Kyrgyzstan's flora since 2004. 

There are currently over 931 species collected in Kyrgyzstan duplicated in the Millennium Seed Bank, with a similar number stored in the seed bank of the Biotechnology Institute.

Kew is also working with the Institute of Biotechnology to create a Silk Road themed garden at Wakehurst Place.  This will be a 2-acre flowering meadow filled with colourful flowers from the steppes and mountains  of the northern Silk Road trade routes, including Tulips, Allium, Iris, Delphinium, Trollius, Geranium and Eremerus (the Foxtail Lily). 

Funds are currently being sought to support both the Kyrgyz seed conservation programme and the Silk Road project.


Project: “Conservation and Use of Germplasm of Kyrgyzstan’s Wild Flora for Management of Genetic-Selectional and Economical Tasks” - ISTC project #KR-973 (

Main tasks:


A seed bank of Kyrgyzstan's wild flora was established. Seeds of new species are being collected each year for seed bank replenishment. At present seeds of 1038 species are stored in the bank at -20°C and -196°C. Among them 133 species are rare, 96 - endemic and 41 - Red Book species. 1039 species are stored in the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew Gardens, UK.


Project:"Searching for perspective endemic and rare plant species of Kyrgyzstan with the object of root large scale cultivation for alternative crude drug data base creation (for medical and food industries)"

Funder: Swiss National Scientific Foundation

Project goal

Determination the most pharmacologically valuable plants and production transgenic root cultures of endemic, rare and economically valuable plant species of Kyrgyzstan for their possible consumption as a source of bioactive compounds and creation on their base ecologically pure crude drug of new type.

Project results

Genetically transformed roots (hairy roots) and callus tissue of skullcap (Scutellaria andrachnoides Vved.) were for the first time introduced in the in vitro culture. S. andrachnoidesis the endemic plant of the Kyrgyzstan. These cultures were characterized byactive and stable growth in the hormone-free liquid Gamborg nutrient medium. The growth rate of undifferentiated callus tissue was higher than that of hairy roots, which were the source of this callus. The composition of secondary metabolites in hairy roots, callus tissue, and also the roots of seedlings and adult S. andrachnoidesplants was analyzed. It was found that S. andrachnoideshairy roots and callus culture retained the ability for the synthesis of flavones typical for the roots of intact plants. Substantial quantitative differences in secondary metabolites were observed between the roots of juvenile and adult plants. In the seedling roots,which like hairy roots have no secondary thickening, wogonoside, a wogonin glucuronide, predominated among flavones. In the roots of adult plants growing due to the secondary thickening, balcalin, a baicalein glucuronide, was a dominating flavon. It is proposed to use the large scale in vitro cultivation of roots and especially the rapidly growing callus tissue of S. andrachnoides with a profitable content of only one group of flavones for the development of the biotechnological method for producing wogonin and creating on its basis a new drug – a valuable anticancer agent of plant origin with selective cytotoxic activity.

View article

A patent was issues based on the results of the project:




I.N. Kuzovkina, M.Yu. Prokof’eva, A.R. Umralina, T.P. Chernysheva. Morphological and Biochemical Characteristics of Genetically Transformed Roots of Scutellaria andrachnoides. Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, 2014, Vol. 61, No. 5, pp. 697–706.

Eurasian Patents:

- The strain of callus tissue skullcap of the Androshvidny skullcap (Scutellaria andrachnoides Vved.) - Scut. andr. (TC) - producer of vogonoside and acteoside / Штамм культуры каллусной ткани шлемника андрохновидного (Scutellaria andrachnoides Vved.) – Scut. andr. (TC) –продуцент вогонозида и актеозида.

- Strain culture of the genetically transformed root Androshvidny skullcap (Scutellaria andrachnoides Vved.) - Scut. andr. (HRC) - producer of vogonoside and acteoside  /  Штамм культуры корня шлемника андрохновидного (Scutellaria andrachnoides Vved.) - Scut. andr. (HRC) - продуцент вогонозида и актеозида.