Dr Nigel Maxted OND, BSc, MPhil, PhD, FLS

Dr Nigel Maxted

School of Biosciences
Senior Lecturer in Genetic Conservation

Contact details

+44 (0)121 41 45571
+44 (0)121 41 45925
School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Nigel Maxted is a Senior Lecturer in Plant Genetic Conservation, with specific expertise in in situ and ex situ conservation techniques.


  • PhD (University of Southampton) - A revision of Vicia subgenus Vicia using database techniques. 
  • MPhil (University of Southampton) - Inter and intra-generic relationships between Psophocarpus spp. (Leguminosae - Phaseoleae) and their allies. 
  • BSc (The Polytechnic, Wolverhampton) - Biological Sciences 
  • Ordinary National Diploma (Hadlow College Of Agriculture) - Agriculture.


Nigel Maxted has led National, European and International crop wild relative and landrace agrobiodiversity conservation projects with funding from international (FAO, GEF, Bioversity International, ICARDA, IUCN), European (EC, EEA, ESF) and British government (Commonwealth Secretariat, Defra, DfiD, DoE) agencies. He also regularly undertaking consultancy work for Bioversity, FAO, GCDT, GEF, ICARDA, UNDP, UNEP, World Bank and overseas governments.

He is Co-Chair IUCN SSC CWR Specialist Group; Chair of European Cooperative Programme for PGR In Situ Working Group; Chair of the UK PGR Committee; Senior Scientific Advisor for the GEF / World Bank on PGR Conservation and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. He has published >280 scientific papers and 20 books on various aspects of PGR conservation.

He has recently published a policy papers on English crop wild relative conservation for Natural England, crop wild relative in situ conservation for ECPGR and the European Parliament and global agrobiodiversity conservation and use for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, as well as engaging in practical field-based conservation in the Middle East. He has supervised over 150 Masters and 31 PhD studentships


Undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of biodiversity, conservation biology, ecology, taxonomy and plant genetic resources management courses, both at the University of Birmingham and occasionally running short courses in these subjects abroad.

Supervision of under-graduate and post-graduate research projects. Direction of various postgraduate and vocational biodiversity conservation training courses in and outside of the UK, as well as temperate and tropical botanical and conservation field courses.

Postgraduate supervision

For a list of possible PhD projects offered by Dr Maxted www.findaphd.com/search/customlink.asp?inst=birm-Biol&supersurname=Maxted

Doctoral research

PhD title
A revision of Vicia subgenus Vicia using database techniques


Research Theme within School of Biosciences: Plant Science


  • 2015 – Task Force co-leader for In situ conservation for the Ecosystem Services Partnership
  • 2013 – Task Force leader in situ conservation of crop wild relatives in Europe
  • 2011 – Chair of the UK PGR Committee
  • 2010 – Honorary Research Fellow at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
  • 2008 – Deputy Chair of the UK PGR Committee
  • 2003 – IUCN SSC Crop Wild Relative Specialist Group, Chair
  • 2000 – ECPGR In Situ and On Farm Network, Chair
  • 2000 – ECPGR In Situ Working Group, Chair
  • 1998 – present Senior Lecturer, Plant Genetic Conservation
  • 1996 – Senior Scientific Advisor for the GEF / World Bank on PGR Conservation
  • 1991 – Lecturer, Plant Genetic Conservation
  • 1990 – PhD University of Southampton, Taxonomy, Conservation & Data  Management
  • 1984 – MPhil University of Southampton, Taxonomy
  • 1981 – BSc The polytechnic, Wolverhampton, Biological Sciences
  • 1975 – OND Hadlow College, Agriculture

Research interests

My research is focused on the conservation of genetic diversity in plants, largely on species of socio-economic value, working primarily in Northern Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe, as well as the UK. The assessment of genetic variation at the molecular level provides a better understanding of patterns of diversity and facilitating its sustainable conservation.

The research has often involved the development of novel approaches to conservation, particularly in the management of in situ crop wild relative (CWR) and landrace (LR) diversity. Recent activities have focused on research methodologies for the production of inventories and conservation of CWR and LR diversity globally, in Europe and the UK.

Current active research project

January 2014 to date: Project partner in an EU ACP Programme project entitled Developing CWR conservation strategies for Southern Africa. This project involves transfer of skills developed in Europe to countries in Southern Africa concerning the development of crop wild relative conservation strategies, the project is led by Bioversity International and involves Zambia, South Africa and Mauritius.

January 2014 to date: Project partner in a Norwegian Government project entitled Development of a CWR conservation strategies for Norway.  This project involves transfer of skills developed in agrobiodiversity conservation in Europe and there specific application in Norway. It involves collaborative research in plants surveying, seed conservation, genetic diversity studies and utilisation.

January 2012 to date: Project partner in an EU ERA funded project entitled Reinforcing cooperation between the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan and European Research Area.  This project involves transfer of skills from ERA and collaborative research between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan and the University of Birmingham in the area of plants and seed conservation, genetic resource diversity and biotechnology, and utilisation and access benefit sharing.

March 2011 to date: Project partner in a Norwegian Government grant of US$ 50M for Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Collecting, Protecting, and Preparing Crop Wild Relatives. This project involves research into the conservation and exploitation of global crop wild relative diversity, the UoB element of the project is focused on (i) preparation of database of 91 crop global priority gene pools, (ii) collation and analysis of ecogeographic data for priority gene pools, (iii) production of user friendly field guide for field identification, and (iv) production of global crop wild relative diversity conservation strategies to enhance global food security in the face of climate change.

March 2011 to date: Principle investigator for a EC FP7 Research Novel characterization of crop wild relatives and landraces resources as a basis for improved crop breeding (PGR Secure). This project involves research into novel characterization techniques and conservation strategies for European crop wild relative and landrace diversity, as an aid to enhance crop improvement by breeders, with the long term goal of underpinning European food security in the face of climate change.

Nov. 2009 to date: Principle investigator for a Defra (SAIN) Conservation for enhanced utilization of crop wild relative diversity for sustainable development and climate change mitigation (CWR China). This project involves the inventory, prioritization, threat assessment and conservation of Chinese CWR diversity, further build a database of useful genetic diversity, identified by novel transcriptomic technology, will facilitate use by plant breeders.

June. 2009 to date: Principle investigator for an IUCN funded project concerned with IUCN red listing of European crop wild relative diversity.  This project involves the selection, species prioritisation, collation of ecogeographic data sets and IUCN Red Listing of approx. 1,000 crop wild relatives that are native to Europe, as an aid to the formulation of a systematic global conservation strategy.

Feb. 2003 to date: Co-Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Crop Wild Relative Specialist Group.  The group aims to produce a Red List of Threatened Species for socio-economically important plant species.  The CWR/SG also provides technical and scientific advice to governments, international environmental treaties and conservation organisations. The group now intends to undertake an intense period of Red List Assessment for European CWR taxa funded by the EC via IUCN.

January 2003 to date: Principle investigator for a DEFRA funded project concerned with Inventory and conservation of the UK's Agrobiodiversity.  This project is a multi-institute project (also involving Warwick HRI, Wellesbourne, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture, Edinburgh and IGER, Aberystwyth) coordinated from Birmingham, with the aim of producing a systematic inventory of UK agrobiodiversity, crop wild relatives and traditional crop landraces, and then use the inventory to generate a systematic strategy for their genetic conservation.

Dec. 1985 to date: Ecogeographic surveys of forage legumes linked to the targeted conservation activities in West and Central Asia, and Africa. The projects have involved using detailed ecogeographic data to pinpoint interesting taxon locations, establishing ex situ and in situ conservation priorities and then undertaking finely targeted conservation missions, as well as writing conservation action plans for priority groups, such as temperate Vicia and Lathyrus, and tropical Vigna.  This has involved leading conservationists from the Vavilov Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia; ICARDA, Syria; GRU, Menemen, Turkey; DSIR, New Zealand; CLIMA, Australia; and National Genetic Resources Lab., USA.

Current members of our group

Research Manager / Postdoc:

  • S.P. Kell - Conservation methodologies for European and Chinese crop wild relative diversity   
  • J. Magos Brehm – Generation of tools for agrobiodiversity conservation

PhD students:

  • N. Castaneda - Enhancing ex situ CWR Conservation through GIS gap analysis
  • S. Dias - Ecogeographic, GIS and genetic diversity analysis of Medicago species
  • H. Fielder - Developing genetic conservation methodologies for UK CWR diversity
  • I. Thormann – Use of agro-biodiversity to increase food security / climatic resilience
  • H. Vincent - Developing methodologies for in situ CWR conservation
  • L. Rhodes - Methodologies for threat assessment of CWR and LR
  • W. Zair - Regional CWR conservation action strategy for West Asia
  • J. Phillips - National CWR conservation action strategy for Norway
  • A. Contreras Toledo - National CWR conservation action strategy for Mexico
  • M. João Almeida - National crop landrace conservation and use in Portugal


I regularly undertake consultancy service in relation to plant genetic conservation for major international agencies. I recently prepared a Global Strategy for Crop Wild Relative Conservation Strategy for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, provided advice on Medicinal Plant Conservation in Jordan for the Global Environment Facility and formed part of a World Bank team assessing the implementation of plant genetic conservation in Egypt.

Other activities

Dr Nigel Maxted - other activities

My home is a small farm set within a Natural England nature reserve (SSSI), so I enjoy looking after our animals (pigs and cattle) and managing our part of the nature  reserve


Selected Journal Publications (since 2010)

Jarvis, S., Fielder, H., Brotherton, P., Hopkins, J.J., Maxted, N. and Smart, S., (2015). Distribution of crop wild relatives of conservation priority in the UK landscape. Biological Conservation, 191: 444–451.

Fielder, H., Brotherton, P., Hosking, J., Hopkins, J.J., Ford-Lloyd, B.V. and Maxted, N., (2015). Enhancing the conservation of crop wild relatives in England. PLOS ONE 10(6): e0130804. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130804

Castañeda-Álvarez, N.P., de Haan, S., Juárez, H., Khoury, C.K., Achicanoy, H.A, Sosa, C.C., Bernau, V., Salas, A., Heider, B., Simon, R., Maxted, N. & Spooner, D.M., (2015) Ex situ conservation priorities for the wild relatives of potato (Solanum L. section Petota). PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0122599.

Smỳkal, P., Coyne, C.J., Ambrose, M.J., Maxted, N., Schaefer, H., Blair, M.W., Berger,J., Greene, S.L., Nelson, M.N., Besharat, N., Vymyslickỳ, T. Toker, C., Saxena, R.K., Roorkiwal, M., Pandey, M.K., Hu, J., Li, J.H., Wang, L.X., Guo, Y., Qiu, L.J., Redden, R.J. & Rajeev K. Varshney, R.K., (2014). Legume crops phylogeny and genetic diversity for science and breeding. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 34(1-3): 43–104.

Landucci, F., Panella, L., Lucarini, D., Gigante, D., Donnini, D., Kell, S.P., Maxted N., Venanzoni, R. & Negri, V., (2014) A prioritized inventory of crop wild relatives and wild harvested plants of Italy. Crop Science, 10.2135/cropsci2013.05.0355.

Phillips, J., Kyratzis, A., Christoudoulou, C., Kell, S. & Maxted, N., (2014). Development of a national crop wild relative conservation strategy for Cyprus. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 10.1007/s10722-013-0076.

Vincent, H., Wiersema, J., Kell, S.P., Dobbie, S., Fielder, H., Castañeda Alvarez, N.P., Guarino, L., Eastwood, R., Leόn, B. & Maxted, N., (2013). A prioritised crop wild relative inventory as a first step to help underpin global food security. Biological Conservation, 167: 265-275.

Shehadeh, A., Amri, A. & Maxted, N., (2013). Ecogeographic survey and gap analysis of Lathyrus L. species. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 60(7): 2101-2113

Khoury, C.K., Greene, S., Wiersema, J., Maxted, N., Jarvis, A. & Struik, P.C. (2013). An Inventory of Crop Wild Relatives of the United States. Crop Science, doi: 10.2135/cropsci2012.10.0585

Maxted, N., Kell, S.P., Ford-Lloyd, B.V., Dulloo, M.E. & Toledo, A., (2012). Toward the systematic conservation of global crop wild relative diversity. Crop Sciences, 52(2): 774-785.

Maxted, N., Hargreaves, S., Kell, S.P., Amri, A., Street, K., Shehadeh, A., Piggin, J. & Konopka, J., (2012). Temperate forage and pulse legume genetic gap analysis. Bocconea, 24: 5-36

Smýkal, P., Kenicer, G., Flavell, A.J., Corander, J., Kosterin, O., Redden, R.J., Ford, R., Coyne, C.J., Maxted, N., Ambrose, M.J. and Ellis, N.T.H., (2011). Phylogeny, phylogeography and genetic diversity of the Pisum genus. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization, 9(1): 4–18.

Maxted, N., Kell, S.P., Toledo, A., Dulloo, M.E., Heywood, V., Hodgkin, T., Hunter, D., Guarino, L., Jarvis, A. and Ford-Lloyd, B.V., (2010). A global approach to crop wild relative conservation: securing the gene pool for food and agriculture. Kew Bulletin, 65: 561–576.

Magos Brehm, J., Maxted,N., Martins-Loução, M.A. and Ford-Lloyd B.V., (2010). New approaches for establishing conservation priorities for socio-economic important plant species. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(9): 2715-2740.

Hargreaves, S.; Maxted, N.; Hirano, R.; Abberton, M.; Skøt, L.; Ford-Lloyd, B. V., (2010). Islands as refugia of Trifolium repens genetic diversity. Conservation Genetics, 11(4): 1317-1326.

Magos Brehm, J., Maxted,N., Martins-Loução, M.A. and Ford-Lloyd B.V., (2010). New approaches for establishing conservation priorities for socio-economic important plant species. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(9): 2715-2740.

Key texts

Maxted, N., Ehsan Dulloo, M. and Ford-Lloyd, B.V. (eds.) (2016). Enhancing Crop Genepool Use: Capturing Wild Relative and Landrace Diversity for Crop Improvement. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. ISBN-13: 978-1-78064-613-8  

Redden, R., Yadav, S.S., Maxted, N., Dulloo, M.E., Guarino, L. & Smith, P. (Eds.), (2015). Crop Wild Relatives and Climate Change, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, USA. ISBN 978-1-118-85433-4.

Thormann, I., Parra-Quijano, M., Endresen, D.T.F., Rubio-Teso, M.L., Iriondo, M.J. & Maxted, N. (2014). Predictive characterization of crop wild relatives and landraces. Technical guidelines version 1. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.

Maxted, N., Dulloo, M.E., Ford-Lloyd, B.V., Frese, L., Iriondo, J.M. and  Pinheiro de Carvalho, M.A.A., (eds.) (2012). Agrobiodiversity Conservation: Securing the Diversity of Crop Wild Relatives and Landraces. CAB International, Wallingford

Hopkins, J. & Maxted, N., (2010). Crop Wild Relatives : Plant genetic conservation for food security. Natural England, Peterborough.

Vetelainen, M., Negri, V. & Maxted, N., (2009). European Landraces: On-farm conservation, Management and Use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin 15. Pp. 1-359. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.

Maxted, N. and Kell, S.P., (2009). Establishment of a global network for the in situ conservation of crop wild relatives: status and needs. FAO Consultancy Report, pp. 1-265. FAO, Rome.

Iriondo, J.M., Maxted, N. And Dulloo, E. (Eds.) (2008). Conserving Plant Genetic Diversity in Protected Areas: Population Management of Crop Wild Relatives. CABI Publishing, Wallingford. ISBN: 97-818-459328-24

AL-Atawneh, N., Shehadeh, A., Amri, A. & Maxted, N., (2008). Conservation Field Guide to Medics of the Mediterranean Basin. ICARDA, Syria.

Maxted, N., Ford-Lloyd, B.V., Kell, S.P., Iriondo, J., Dulloo, E. And Turok, J., (2007). Crop wild relative conservation and use. CAB International, Wallingford. ISBN: 97-818-459309-98.

Stolton, S., Maxted, N., Ford-Lloyd, B., Kell, S.P. & Dudley, N., (2006). Food Stores: Using Protected Areas to Secure Crop Genetic Diversity. WWF Arguments for protection series. Gland, Switzerland. Pp. 1-133. ISBN: 2-88085-272-2.

Maxted, N., Mabuza-Dlamini, P., Moss, H., Padulosi, S., Jarvis, A. & Guarino, L., (2004). An Ecogeographic Survey: African Vigna. Systematic and Ecogeographic Studies of Crop Genepools 10. pp. 1-468. IPGRI, Rome. ISBN: 92-9043-637-9.

Tomooka, N., Vaughan, D., Moss, H. & Maxted, N., (2003). The Asian Vigna: Vigna subgenus Ceratotropis genetic resources. Pp. 1-270. Kluwer, Dordrecht. ISBN: 1-4020-0836-8

Maxted, N. & Bennett, S., (eds.), (2001). Plant Genetic Resources of Legumes in the Mediterranean. Pp. 1-386. Kluwer, Dordrecht. ISBN 0-7923-6707-3.

Hawkes, J.G., Maxted, N. & Ford-Lloyd, B.V., (2000). The ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources. Pp. 1-250. Kluwer, Dordrecht. ISBN 0-7923-6442-2.

Laliberte, B., Maggioni, L., Maxted, N. & Negri, V., (Eds.). 2000. ECP/GR In situ and On-farm Conservation Network. Report of a joint meeting of a Task Force on Wild Species Conservation in Genetic Reserves and a Task Force on On-farm Conservation and Management, 18-20 May 2000, Isola Polvese, Italy. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. ISBN 92-9043-457-0.

Maxted, N., Ford-Lloyd, B.V. & Hawkes, J.G., (1997). Plant genetic conservation: the in situ approach. Chapman & Hall, London. Pp. 451. ISBN 0-412-63400-7.


Agrobiodiversity conservation, food security