DNA Studies

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Since late 1997 I have been coordinating DNA studies of the thymes in my National Plant Collection®.  Dr. Madan Thangavelu carried out the first study in 1997 when he was at Wye College and the Golden Thyme DNA Study in 1999, when he was at the Medical Research Council, Cambridge.

Our intention is to study the DNA of all the thymes in my Collection.  This is a long term project, currently funded by a grant from the John Lewis Spedan Foundation to study the relationships of creeping thyme and a bursary from the RHS to study bushy thyme species.  Best results are obtained when the plants are growing fast, in late spring and late summer, using small amounts of the youngest leaves.  Older leaves give too much contamination from the oils present and the results are poor.  Many thymes have been assigned to the wrong species and DNA studies are helping to sort out this muddle.

1997 DNA Study

DNA profiles for the study carried out in 1997.  Those on the right delineate at specific level and those on the left show differences within a species.  (The names in parentheses refer to misapplied or invalid names)

1997 DNA Results

Group B are the grey leaved, orange scented bushy thymes and although they have very similar profiles, it is apparent that they are distinct cultivars, T. 'Fragrantissimus' and T. 'Provence'.

Group C are demonstrated to be cultivars of T. vulgaris (Group A), with identical profiles in both studies, confirming that all samples are the same plant, which has now been renamed T. vulgaris 'Golden Pins'.

Updated May 2010


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