Our agricultural system is not diverse, sustainable or healthy, and has high ecological impact. Humans have the tendency to fix systemic problems with ad hoc patches, which often result with more problems down the stream. Sometimes we need to go back few steps to redesign the system. We use retrospective tools to learn about past agricultures. We inform agrobiodiversity conservation. We also search for better designs and inform neodomestication projects.



The clean room at Kew is no 98% functional. Phuong, Stefano and myself are the first users. Whole week of training ahead!


Very fruitful visit of our colleagues and collaborators from Can Tho University, Vietnam. We are looking forward to fruitful joint work.


Christmas party at Kew, mince pies, wine and burgers. Merry Christmas from our Team!


Home cooked turkey is the start of festive season. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Visiting NIAB in Cambridge to see how fonio is regenerating. It is regenerating. Well! Hopefull for future transformations. 


Phuong and Rafal sampling wonderful collections of Vietnamese rice at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Eaten. Too. Many. Pastries.


Phuong, Robin and Rafal processing our samples from the Philippines!


Rafal and Robin gave talks at the National Musuem of the Philippines:

'Genomics in the Museum-challenges and promises'

'The spread of rice in Southeast Asia-genomics and environment'

'Historical microbial ecology- new frontiers in museum research'


Rafal and Robin are in the field, collecting old and new rice varieties straight from the farm in the Philippines. Awesome collaboration with Jhaydee Pascual and Jomar Hinolan from the National Musuem of the Philippines.


Rafal, Phuong and Nataly attended CEE's  Autumn Mixer 2023 at Kings College London. Marybel Soto Gomez and Sam Pironon presented and made a strong showing for Kew!


We hosted CEE's  Wallmer Symposium 2023 at Kew. Rafal with help from Robin and Nataly made this family-friendly science outreach event a success. Speakers about fauna, flora and athropology of Austonesia were amazing.


Amazing visit at the Plants, Photosynthesis and Soils Cluster, University of Sheffield, and what a great audience for Rafal's seminar talk. 


Rafal had a wonderful time at CNB Madrid (CSIC) giving the seminar as junior-invitee and hanging out with amazing postdocs. Very inspirational and rejuvenating visit.


Rafal had a great time back at his Alma Mater. Seminar given to a great crowd at the Environmental Seminar series, University of Warwick, UK

January 04, 2023:  

Finishing field work in Cavite and Batangas in the Philippines - couldn't imagine better hospitality, from IRRI, Department of Agriculutre, LGUs and farmers. We will be back.

January 01, 2023:  

We are kicking off the Accelerated Diversification for Climate Resilient Agriculture programme today! Huge enterprize to boost food security.

December 23, 2022:  

A very nice Christmas present! Nataly, Andrew, Mark and Rafal wrote a book chapter on DNA from musuem collections. Best thing? You can read it for free here.

December 17, 2022:  

The first paper from 1000HRG project x IOMAP Americas is out. Read in JxB about why we care about rice wild relatives so much, and how we can use herbarium specimens to assess the condition of Oryza genus.

November 03, 2022:  

It's official! Nataly A. Canales is funded by prestigous Villum International Fellowship and will join the group in March 2023 working on indigenous Andean crops called bitter potatoes - cannot wait to start!

October 27, 2022:  

Rafal was an invited speaker at a Ecology and Evolution Seminar seriec at Imperial College London in Silwood campus. It's great to engage with so many postgrad students.

November 01, 2022:  

Rafal moved to Mastodon ecoevo.social server. He is more active there than on Twitter.

 Join in : https://ecoevo.social/web/@rafal

October 25, 2022:  

Together with Anthony Hall at the Earlham Institute we are looking for a PhD student. Project details can be found here: https://www.earlham.ac.uk/studentship/characterising-rice-genetic-diversity-past-safeguard-future

September 08, 2022:  

Rafal was an invited speaker at a symposium on Ancient Plant DNA at the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters in Copenhagen. Wonderful meeting with amazing science.

September 05, 2022:  

Ella Serpell has passed her MSc thesis examinaiton with flying colours! Under mine and Sam Pironon's supervision, she concluded environmental similarities among domestication centres . 

April 14, 2022:  

Kind of Nataly A. Canales to mention me in her passionate article series on becoming an accomplished naturalist! https://wellcomecollection.org/articles/YjyQbREAACIAhTNR

April 04, 2022:  

Rafal is giving a seminar at the 'Future Food Beacon' seminar series at the University of Nottingham

April 01, 2022:  

IOMAP: the Americas project is live! I will help in sequencing and analysing historical genomes of 3 (2?) Oryza species growing in the Americas.

January 20, 2022:  

Neodomestication of edible plants can help us adapt to climate change. We discuss how this can be achieved here:  https://t.co/H2zywkGcqf

We are planning future pathways at Kew Science, awesome collaboration between genomics, crop physiology, environmental science, and seed bank.


January 10, 2022:  

The flagship proposal of 1000HRGP was funded by ERC! Things got very real; 1.4 mln euro to mine historical rice from herbarium for nature-based solution to improve nutrition and sustainability of rice agriculture. Stay tuned for position openings later this year. 

December  20, 2021:  

Norwich Research Park DTP funded a PhD to dive deep into the effects of rice breeding on its diversity. Co-supervised by me at Kew and Jose de Vega at Earlham Institute.  

December  20, 2021:  

I gave the talk for ADAPT network on "The origins and adaptation of European potatoes reconstructed from historical genomes". You can watch the recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlDXHAquHWE

December 6, 2021:  

Bentham-Moxon Trust funded my pilot investigation into indigenous rice in Madagascar. Networking with local researchers and collecting first herbarium samples of unique Malagasy rice in May 2022.

December 2, 2021:  

I gave a talk about rice at UCL's Center for Life's Origin and Evolution Anniversary Symposium. You can watch it here : https://www.ucl.ac.uk/biosciences/gee/ucl-centre-lifes-origins-and-evolution [scroll to the bottom of the page]

November 18, 2021:  

One of the 1000HRGP projects led by Rod Wing and Alice Fornasiero (KAUST) got funded! In the next 3 years, we will sequence and analyse a lot of historical and modern material of South American Oryza.

July 29, 2021:  

I got NERC NEOF de novo award to build reference genome for Tillandsia latifolia. This genome will shed new light on functioning of unique Lomas ecosystem in Peru. 

July 8, 2021:  

Ornob Alam, a very talented PhD student at NYU, Rafal and others published a paper in MBE on rice dispersal from Taiwan to SEA.

April 6, 2021:  

First time physically at RBG Kew. Guess what was I doing? Yes, browsing Oryza collection!

March 31, 2021:  

My first invited talk at a conference. Check my talk entitled 'Biotic and abiotic interactions between crop plants and environment'.
Ancient Biomolecules of Plants, Animals, and Microbes (Virtual Conference) 2021.

November 19, 2020:  

Our A-to-Z protocol to process historical and ancient plant tissue to get quality genomic data. https://currentprotocols.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cppb.20121 . Contact me for pdf.

October 1, 2020:  

It has finally happened, I am officially a Research Leader at RBG Kew. Feels strange to start remotely, but I am determined to push my research ideas out asap!

September 1, 2020:  

Good news, I am back in the clean lab to prepare some exciting genomic libraries for 1000 Historical Rice Genome Programme!

May 15, 2020:  

My best piece of work so far has been finally published! Read about the genomic history and ecology of rice spread in Nature Plants. My favourite bit is the effect of 4.2k event on rice evolution and spread.

February 12, 2020:  

Incredible sampling trip to the Smithsonian Herbarium; the largest and best maintained grasses collection thus far. It was a pleasure to share my research with Department of Botany!

January 21, 2020:  

Rafal accepted Kew Gardens' offer to start his independent gig as Research Leader in Bioinformatics this August. Could not have dreamt about a better match!

November 13 - 15, 2019:  

We have more rice specimens, courtesy of Steere Herbarium in New York Botanical Garden. We are almost at 200 now!  

October 14 - 15, 2019:  

Rafal visited the Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, where he sampled rice specimens together with Michaela Schmull and Anthony Brach. 1000HRG project is growing big!  

August 31, 2019 

An amazing collaborative project on the dispersal of Asian rice is now summarized in the pre-print "Genomic history and ecology of the geographic spread of rice". It is ready for your comments and suggestions in bioRxiv.

July 22, 2019:

Rafal talked about the collaborative project on environmental associations in rice and its historical spread in Asia based on rice genomes, paleoenvironment reconstruction and archaeology (link to abstract book).

June 24, 2019:

Rafal's paper titled "The origins and adaptation of European potatoes reconstructed from historical genomes" is out in Nature Ecology and Evolution! Read about very old specimens in the 'behind the paper' blog.

June 24, 2019:

Jesse Lasky talked about our project "Dispersal limitation and environment drive genomic differentiation among rice landraces" during Evolution 2019 meeting in Providence (link to video recording). 

June 3, 2019:         

Harlan III symposium in Montpellier kicked off. Rafal talked about his research on environmental associations in rice and its historical spread in Asia based on landrace genomes.  

May 20 - 21, 2019:  

Rafal visited the Natural History Museum, London, where he sampled rice specimens together with Norbert Holstein. This is the official start of 1000HRG project!