Genetic flora of the British Isles database

Looking for genetic information on the British flora? The Genetic Flora of the British Isles is an on-line database that can be searched to identify publications that have used genetics to study the British flora.

Currently holding 3075 publications, the database can be searched by

Access Genetic Flora of the British Isles

For more information on the construction of the database follow the links below.

Key conceptual review papers are treated separately on our Conservation Genetic Resources web page.

Send new relevant paper citations and record amendments to Dr Markus Ruhsam.

Inclusion criteria

The database primarily focuses on genetic projects that have studied British populations of higher plants, both natives and aliens (according to the current BSBI checklists]). In addition, we have included papers that have studied British native (and archeophyte) species from non-British populations and also native lower plant species when encountered during our searches. Excluded from the database were crops and model plant species to avoid swamping the database. The exception to this are the studies related to gene flow from crops to their relatives and key studies of model organisms in natural populations.

The database currently contains the following number of taxa:

  • Flowering plants (959)
  • Conifers (5)
  • Ferns & Allies (61)
  • Bryophytes (112)
  • Algae (40)
  • Lichens (53)

Search strategy

The database was populated by:

  • searching the Web of Knowledge (WoK), using specifically designed keyword search strings

Once relevant publications were identified, where possible, they were classified according to:

  • the species that were studied in the project, including organism type and whether they were a Red Data Book species (Vascular plants only)
  • the molecular markers used in the project
  • the geographical scale of the project
  • the questions the project addressed (Study type)
  • the sort of publication it was

Organism type

The following organisms types are included in the database: 

  • Flowering plants
  • Conifers
  • Ferns
  • Horsetails
  • Clubmosses/Quillworts
  • Bryophytes
  • Algae
  • Lichen

Molecular markers

The following molecular markers are currently included in the database: 

Nuclear markers

  • Isozyme/Allozyme
  • Nuclear EST-SSR
  • Nuclear microsatellite
  • Nuclear minisatellite
  • Nuclear RFLP
  • Nuclear Southern Hybridisation
  • IRAP
  • Nuclear Y Chromosome Marker
  • Nuclear sequences
  • Next generation sequencing
  • RAD markers

Arbitrary fingerprinting techniques

  • AFLP
  • RAPD
  • ISSRs
  • SCAR
  • UP-PCR

Organelle markers

  • Organelle PCR RFLP
  • Organelle southern RFLP
  • Organelle microsatellite
  • Organelle minisatellite
  • Organelle sequences

Project Scale (geographical)

Within Britain studies were categorised at the following scales and location of the studied populations: 

  • Local: English vice-county area
  • Local: Welsh vice-county area
  • Local: Scottish vice-county area
  • Local: Irish vice-county area
  • Country: England
  • Country: Wales
  • Country: Scotland
  • Country: Ireland
  • Country: England-Scotland
  • Country: Scotland-Ireland
  • Country: Wales-Ireland
  • Country: England-Ireland
  • Country: Wales-Scotland
  • Country: England-Wales
  • Country: Widespread

Studies performed on populations not solely located within Britain were categorised as follows: 

  • European
  • North American
  • South America
  • African
  • Asian
  • Australasian
  • Russian
  • Arctic
  • Antarctic
  • Euro-North American
  • Euro-Russian
  • Euro-Asian
  • Euro-Russia-Asian
  • Euro-North American-Asian
  • Euro-North American-Russian
  • Euro-African-Asian
  • Euro-African
  • Euro-Macaronesian
  • Euro-South American
  • Northern Hemisphere
  • Worldwide

Publication type

The following publication types are included in the database: 

  • Empirical papers
  • Summary papers of empirical data
  • Reports
  • Theses

Study types

  • Adaptation
  • Alien
  • Breeding system
  • Conservation
  • DNA barcoding
  • Ex-situ conservation
  • Gender identification
  • Gene flow
  • Genecology
  • Genetic diversity and landscape management
  • Genetic diversity assessment
  • Hybridisation
  • Landscape genetics
  • Marker development
  • Parentage assignment
  • Phylogeography
  • Polyploidy
  • Quantitative trait analysis
  • Restoration
  • Spatial genetic structure
  • Speciation/diversification
  • Taxonomic clarification


Some relevant references will have been missed as a result of the search criteria used.
The scale and the molecular markers used in a project could not always be confirmed. We have not read all 1500+ references in their entirety and there may be some errors in our classification of the study types. This database is at a test stage and we are checking for errors and making additions.

Database last updated: 31st January 2017 (all articles published in 2016 were added).


Pete Hollingsworth and Richard Gornall (University of Leicester) for the concept, discussions and design input.
Graham French for the initial database design and maintenance
Martin Pullan for designing the searchable web interface
Jane Squirrell for webpage design and updating the database until 2009
Markus Ruhsam for updating the database from 2010 onwards
Natural England and Scottish Executive for providing funding


Squirrell J, Gornall RJ, French GC, Pullan M and Hollingsworth PM (2006) Genetic Flora of the British Isles database. Available from:

Back to Top

Genetic Flora of the British Isles

Genetic Flora of the British Isles

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)