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

Professor Nigel Maxted

School of Biosciences
Chair in Plant Genetic Conservation

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Nigel Maxted is Professor of Plant Genetic Conservation, with specific expertise in in situ and ex situ conservation related to crops, their wild relative and other socio-economically important plants.

Nigel has led National, European and International crop, their wild relative and other socio-economically important plant 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 International, FAO, GCDT, GEF, ICARDA, UNDP, UNEP, World Bank and overseas governments.


  • 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.


How can agrobiodiversity help to safeguard food security in the face of climate change?

Nigel is 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 was appointed International Science Advisor for Bioversity International in 2016. He has published >280 scientific papers and 23 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 European Cooperative Programme for Genetic Resources 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 160 Masters and 34 PhD research projects.


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

Doctoral research

PhD title
A revision of Vicia subgenus Vicia using database techniques


Research Theme within School of Biosciences: Plant Science


  • 2018 – Professor, Plant Genetic Conservation
  • 2016 – International Science Advisor for Bioversity International (a global CGIAR centre)
  • 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 – 2018 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 underpinning global food security, specifically the conservation of genetic diversity in plants for those 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 of crop wild relatives (CWR) and traditional crop landraces (LR) at the molecular level provides a better understanding of patterns of diversity and facilitating their effective and sustainable conservation.

The research has often involved the development of novel approaches to conservation, particularly in the management of in situ CWR and on-farm maintenance of LR diversity.  Recently this has led to the establishment of the Vavilov Network, a global network of site / crop-related population that will be used to underpin future global crop improvement through the continued provision of novel adaptive traits for farmers and breeders use.

Current active research project

  • April 2019 to date: Project partner in a Defra Darwin Initiative project concerned with Building a crop wild relative conservation network in the SADC region. This project involves transfer of CWR conservation and use skills developed in Europe to countries in the Southern African Development Community region  to help them develop national and regional CWR Conservation Strategies and Action Plans. The project is led by Bioversity International and involves national conservation agencies in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. Project manager (Dr J. Magos Brehm) 
  • Jan 2019 to date: Lead partner in an EC H2020 project concerning Joining forces for genetic resources and biodiversity management. GenRes Bridge will promote linkages between the animal, crop and forestry genetic resources and the biodiversity conservation community in Europe. We will lead the production of an Integrated European Genetic Resource Conservation and Use Strategy encompassing animal, forestry and crop genetic resources which will form the basis for future socio-economically valuable biodiversity policy in Europe for the next 10 years, as well as identify gaps in current GR conservation efforts. (Staff: Dr J. Phillips and Dr S. Kell) 
  • Jan 2018 to date: Project coordinator in an EC H2020 project concerning Networking, partnerships and tools to enhance in situ conservation of European plant genetic resources. Farmer’s Pride is to establish a network of stakeholders and conservation sites that effectively coordinates conservation actions to safeguard the wealth of Europe’s in situ plant genetic resources (PGR) and integrates the user community to maximize their sustainable use. Project manager (Dr S. Kell) 
  • May 2016 to date: Project partner in a Defra Darwin Initiative project concerned with Safeguarding Mesoamerican crop wild relatives. This project involves transfer of CWR conservation and use skills developed in Europe to countries in Meso-America to help them develop national and regional CWR Conservation Strategies and Action Plans, the project is led by IUCN and involves national conservation agencies in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Project manager (Dr S. Kell) 
  • 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 is currently Red Listing the 1,392 global priority CWR species as a precursor to systematic conservation. Project manager (Dr J. Magos Brehm) 

Current members of our group

Research Manager / Postdoc:

  • S.P. Kell – Conservation methodologies for European CWR diversity and building linkages between the animal, crop and forestry genetic resources and the biodiversity conservation community in Europe
  • J. Magos Brehm – Generation of tools for agrobiodiversity conservation and conservation methodologies of Southern African CWR diversity
  • J. Phillips – Conservation planning for animal, crop and forestry genetic resources and biodiversity conservation in Europe

PhD students: 

  • W. Zair - Regional CWR conservation action strategy for West Asia
  • M. Nassep – National socio-economic plant conservation in Kuwait
  • N. Mponya – Malawian crop wild relative conservation strategy
  • R. Cahyaningsih – Indonesian systematic medicinal plant conservation planning
  • W. Rahman – Indonesian systematic CWR conservation planning
  • A. Alzahrani – Taxonomy/conservation of Verbascum spp. in Arabia Peninsular


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. In the last year I have also provided expert briefing to the European Parliament and senior protected area administration staff in EC DG Environment.

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 2015)

1.    Vincent, H., Amri, A., Castañeda-Álvarez, N.P., Dempewolf, H., Dulloo, M.E., Guarino, L., Hole, D., Mba,C., Toledo, A. & Maxted, N., (2019). Modeling of crop wild relative species identifies areas globally for in situ conservation. Communications Biology, 2:136 |

2.    Preston, J.M., Ford-Lloyd, B.V., Smith, L.M., Sherman, R., Munro, N., Allender, C. and Maxted. N., (2018). Genetic analysis of a heritage variety collection. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization, 17(3), 232-244. doi:10.1017/S1479262118000448  

3.    Wainwright, W., Drucker, A.G., Maxted, N., Magos Brehm, N., Ng’uni, D. & Moran, D., (2019). Estimating in situ conservation costs of Zambian crop wild relatives under alternative conservation goals. Land Use Policy, 81: 632–643.

4.    Dulloo M.E. & Maxed N., (2019). Editorial Special issue: Plant Genetic Resources conservation and utilization – crop wild relatives. Plant Genetic Resources, 17(2): 101-102.

5.    Contreras-Toledo, A.R., Cortés-Cruz, M., Costich, D.E, de Lourdes Rico-Arce, M., Magos Brehm, J. and Maxted, N., (2019). Diversity and conservation priorities for crop wild relatives in Mexico. Plant Genetic Resources, 17(2): 140-150.

6.    Tas, N., West, G., Kircalioglu1, G., Boyraz Topaloğlu, Ş.., Phillips, J., Kell, S.P. and Maxted, N., (2019). Conservation gap analysis of crop wild relatives in Turkey. Plant Genetic Resources, 17(2): 164 -173.

7.    Phillips, J., Whitehouse, K., Amri, A. & Maxted, N., (2019). In situ gap analysis of temperate cereal crop wild relatives in their Mediterranean Basin and West Asian centre of diversity. Plant Genetic Resources, 17(2): 185-195.

8.    Magos Brehm, J., Kell, S.P., Thormann, I., Gaisberger, H., Dulloo, M.E. & Maxted, N., (2019). New tools for crop wild relative conservation planning. Plant Genetic Resources, 17(2): 208-212.

9.    Labokas, J., Maxted, N., Kell, S.P., Magos Brehm, J. and Iriondo, J.M., (2018). Development of national crop wild relative conservation strategies in European countries. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 65(5): 1385–1403.

10.  Zair, W., Maxted. N. and Amri, A., (2017). Setting conservation priorities for crop wild relatives in the Fertile Crescent. Genetic Recourses and Crop Evolution, 65:855–863. DOI 10.1007/s10722-017-0576-30.

11.  Kell, S.P., Rosenfeld, A., Cunningham, S., Dobbie, S. & Maxted, N., (2017). The benefits of exotic food crops cultivated by small-scale growers in the UK. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 1-16.

12.  Kell, S.P., Ford-Lloyd, B.V., Magos Brehm, J., Iriondo, J.M. & Maxted, N., (2017). Broadening the base, narrowing the task: prioritizing crop wild relative taxa for conservation action. Crop Science, 57:1042–1058. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2016.10.0873

13.  Kell, S.P., Marino, M. & Maxted, N., (2017). Bottlenecks in the PGRFA use system: stakeholders’ perspectives. Euphytica, 213: 170 DOI 10.1007/s10681-017-1935-z.

14.  Phillips, J., Asdal, Å. Magos Brehm, J., Rasmussen, M. & Maxted, N., (2016). In situ and ex situ diversity analysis of priority crop wild relatives in Norway. Diversity and Distributions, DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12470.

15.  Castañeda-Álvarez, N.P., Khoury, C.K., Achicanoy, H.A., Bernau, V. Dempewolf, H., Eastwood, R.J., Guarino, L., Harker, R.H., Jarvis, A., Maxted, N., Müller, J.V. Ramirez-Villegas, J., Sosa1, C.C., Struik, P.C., Vincent, H. & Toll, J., (2016). Global conservation priorities for crop wild relatives. Nature Plants, 15091022A.

16.  Fielder, H., Smith, C., Ford-Lloyd, B. & Maxted, N., (2016) Enhancing the conservation of crop wild relatives in Scotland. Journal for Nature Conservation, 29, 51–61.

View all publications in research portal


Agrobiodiversity conservation, food security