Richard Dixon | BioDiscovery Institute

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Richard Dixon

Richard Dixon sitting in cactus smiling
BDI Associate Director, Distinguished Research Professor

Richard A. Dixon, FRS. is Associate Director of the BioDiscovery Institute and Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of North Texas, Denton. He was previously Distinguished Professor and Samuel Roberts Noble Research Chair, Senior Vice President and Founding Director of the Plant Biology Division at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he worked from 1988-2013. He received his Bachelor's and Doctoral degrees in Biochemistry and Botany from the University of Oxford, UK, and postdoctoral training in Plant Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK. He was awarded the Doctor of Science degree for his research achievements by the University of Oxford in 2004. His research interests center on the biochemistry, molecular biology and metabolic engineering of plant natural product pathways and their implications for agriculture and human health, and the engineering of lignocellulosic biomass for the improvement of forage and bioenergy feedstocks. He has published over 490 papers and chapters on these and related topics in international journals, that have been cited over 77,000 times. Professor Dixon is a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences (Plant and Soil Sciences Section, elected in 2007), a Fellow of the Royal Society (elected May, 2018), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected in 2003), a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (elected in December, 2014), he has been named by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the 10 most cited authors in the plant and animal sciences.


  • Biochemistry and genetic regulation of plant natural product biosynthetic pathways
  • Metabolic engineering of lignin and condensed tannins for improvement of forage quality and biomass processing
  • Valorization of lignin through genetic modification
  • Glycosylation of flavonoids for neuroprotection


  • National Institutes of Health (Office of Natural Supplements, NCCAM). Botanicals Center on Dietary Polyphenols in the Preservation and Promotion of Cognitive Wellness and Psychological Resiliency. (Co-PI). $700,918. 9/1/15-31/8/20.
  • NSF-IOS. Biosynthesis, Regulation and Engineering of C-Lignin. (PI). $833,772. 8/1/2015-7/31/2019.
  • Grasslanz Technology Ltd. Transforming row crops to express condensed tannins. (PI). $695,000. 12/1/2014-11/30/2019.
  • Forage Genetics International. Molecular approaches to improved protein utilization in alfalfa. (PI). $825,000. 6/1/2013-5/31/2019.
  • United States Department of Energy. The Center for Bioenergy Innovation- Lignin Design and Valorization. (PI). $2,290,000. 10/1/17-9/30/22.


  1. Barros-Rios, J., Escamilla-Trevino. L., Engle, N., Tschaplinski, T.J., Feroza K. Choudhury, F.K., Song, L., Mittler, R., Barney Venables, B. and Dixon, R.A. (2019). 4-Coumarate 3-hydroxylase in the lignin biosynthesis pathway is a cytosolic ascorbate peroxidase. Nature Communications 10:1994.

  2. Wang, J., Hodes, G.E., Zhang, H., Zhang, S., Zhao, W., Golden, S.A., Bi, W., Menard., C., Kana. V., Leboeuf, M., Tiano, S., Xie. M., Bregman, D., Pfau, M., Flanigan, M., Esteban-Fernandez, A., Yemul, S., Sharma, A., Ho, L., Dixon, R.A., Merad, M., Han, M-H., Russo, S.J. and Pasinetti, G.M. (2018). Epigenetic modulation of inflammation and synaptic plasticity promotes resilience against stress in mice. Nature Communications 9:477. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02794-5.
  3. Gallego-Giraldo, L., Pose-Albacete, S., Pattathil, S., Peralta, A.G., Hahn, M., Ayre, B.G., Sunuwar, J., Hernandez, J., Patel, M., Jyoti Shah, J., Rao, X., Knox, J.P. and Dixon, R.A. (2018). Elicitors and defense gene induction in plants with altered lignin compositions. New Phytologist, DOI 10.1111/nph.15258

  4. Ban, Z., Mitchell, A.J., Liu, B., Qin, H., Zhang, F.,Weng, J-k., Dixon, R.A. and Wang, G. (2018). Noncatalytic chalcone isomerase-fold proteins in Humulus lupulus are auxiliary components in prenylated flavonoid biosynthesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115, E5223-E5232.

  5. Jun, J.H., Xiao, X., Rao, X. and Dixon, R.A. (2018). Functional differentiation of two related dioxygenases determines starter and extension units of proanthocyanidins. Nature Plants 4, 1034-1043.

  6. Gould, F., Amasino, R.M., Brossard, D., Buell, C.R., Dixon, R.A., Falck-Zepeda , J., Gallo, M.A., Giller, K., Glenna, L., Griffin, T.S., Hamaker, B., Kareiva, P.M., Magraw, D., Mallory-Smith, C.A., Pixley, K., Ransom, E., Rodemeyer, M., Stelly, D.M., Stewart, C.N.,Whitaker, R.J. (2017). Elevating the conversation about GE crops. Nature Biotechnology 35, 302-304.

  7. Liu, C., Wang, X., Shulaev, V. and Dixon, R.A. (2016) A role for leucoanthocyanidin reductase in the extension of proanthocyanidins. Nature Plants doi:10.1038/nplants.2016.182.
  8. Barros, J., Serrani-Yarce, J.C., Chen, F., Baxter, D., Venables, B.J. and Dixon, R.A. (2016). Role of bifunctional ammonia-lyase in grass cell wall biosynthesis. Nature Plants May 9 2016 Article 16050, DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2016.50.
  9. Jun, J.H., Liu, C., Xiao, X. and Dixon, R.A. (2015). The transcriptional repressor Mt MYB2 regulates both spatial and temporal patterns of proanthocyandin and anthocyanin pigmentation in Medicago truncatula. Plant Cell 27, 2860-2879.

  10. Ragauskas, A.J., Beckham, G.T., Biddy, M.J., Chandra, R., Chen, F., Davis, M.F., Davison, B.H., Dixon, R.A., Gilna, P., Keller, M., Langan, P., Naskar, A.K., Saddler, J.N., Tschaplinski, T.J., Tuskan, G.A., Wyman, C.E. (2014). Lignin valorization: improving lignin processing in the biorefinery. Science, 344, 1246843 (2014). DOI: 10.1126/science.1246843

  11. Zhao, Q., Tobamitsu, Y., Zhou, R., Pattathil, S., Gallego-Giraldo, L., Fu, C., Shadle, G.L., Jackson, L.A., Hahn, M.G., Kim, H., Ralph, J., Chen, F. and Dixon, R.A. (2013). Loss of function of cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase 1 leads to unconventional lignin and temperature-sensitive growth reduction in Medicago truncatula. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 110, 13660-13665.

  12. Zhao, Q., Nakashima, J., Chen, F., Yin, Y., Fu, C., Yun, J., Shao, H., Wang, X., Wang, Z-Y. and Dixon, R.A. (2013). LACCASE is necessary and non-redundant with PEROXIDASE for lignin polymerization during vascular development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell 25, 3976-87.

  13. Chen, F., Tobimatsu, Y., Havkin-Frenkel, D., Dixon, R.A. and Ralph, J. (2012). A polymer of caffeyl alcohol in plant seeds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.109, 1772-1777 (cover article).


  1. Manipulation of proanthocyanidin (PA) composition by affecting antyhocyanidin synthase (ANS) and leucoanthocyanidin dioxygenase (LDOX). R.A. Dixon and J.H. Jun. January 17, 2019. US patent Number US2019/0017060 A1.

  2. Carbon fibers derived from poly-(caffeyl alcohol) (PCFA). R.A. Dixon, N. D'Souza, F. Chen, M. Nar. U.S. Patent No. 9,890,480, February 13, 2018.

  3. Disease resistant plants. S.R. Uppalapati, K.S. Mysore, W. Li, L.W. Sumner and R.A. Dixon. US patent number 8,138,392 B2. March 20, 2012.

  4. Epicatechin glucosyltransferase. R.A. Dixon, Y. Pang, and G.J. Peel. US patent number 8,420,889 B2; New Zealand patent number 591217.

  5. Plants with modified lignin content and methods for production thereof. Q. Zhao, F. Chen and R. A. Dixon. US patent number 8,796,509 B2. Aug 5, 2014. Australian Patent number 61/225,126.
  6. Transcription factors for modification of lignin content in plants. H.Wang, F. Chen and R.A. Dixon. United States Patent, US 9,045,549 B2.
  7. Methods and compositions for regulating production of proanthocyanidins. J. Verdier, J. Zhao, I. Torres-Jerez, S. Ge, K. S. Mysore, R. A. Dixon and M. K. Udvardi. US Patent Number 9,121,031 B2.
  8. Compositions and methods for improved plant feedstock. H. Shen, F. Chen and R. A. Dixon. US patent number 8,901,371 B2. Issued December 2, 2014.
  9. Plant isoflavone and isoflavanone O-methyltransferase genes. B.E. Broeckling, C-J. Liu and R.A.Dixon. US patent number 8,809,627 B2, August 19, 2014.
  10. Metabolic Engineering for plant disease resistance. Li, W., Upalapati, S.R., Mysore, K.S., Dixon, R.A. and Sumner, L.W. January 19, 2016, US Patent Number 9,238,821.

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