Richard Dixon | BioDiscovery Institute

Richard Dixon

Richard Dixon sitting in cactus smiling
Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus

Richard A. Dixon, FRS. was founding Director of the BioDiscovery Institute, and is currently Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus 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 forages and feedstocks for the bioeconomy. He has published over 530 papers and chapters on these and related topics in international journals, that have been cited over 94,000 times. His current h-index is 147, and Google Scholar lists his research impact as #3 in the world in the field of Plant Biology. 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 of London (elected in 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 2014), and a Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (elected in 2018). 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

For Prospective Graduate Students

Not accepting new students at this time


  • Grasslanz Technology Ltd. Transforming row crops to express condensed tannins. (PI). $1,315,000. 12/1/2014-11/30/2024.
  • United States Department of Energy. The Center for Bioenergy Innovation- Lignin Design and Valorization. (PI). $2,330,703. 10/1/17-6/30/2023.


  1. Dixon, R.A., Puente-Urbina, A., Beckham, G.T., Román-Leshkov, Y. (2024). Enabling lignin valorization through integrated advances in plant biology and biorefining. Annual Review of Plant Biology 75: 6.1-6.25.

  2. Dixon, R.A. and Dickinson, A.J. (2024). A century of plant secondary metabolism- from "what?" to "where, how, and why?" Plant Physiology (ASPB Centenary Issue) https://10.1093/plphys/kiad596.

  3. Delmer, D., Dixon, R.A., Keegstra, K. and Mohnen, D. (2024). The plant cell wall--dynamic, strong, and adaptable--is a natural shapeshifter. Plant Cell (ASPB Centenary Issue),

  4. Dixon, R.A. and Dainton, J. (2024). Editorial: Guest-editing under the spotlight. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 379: 20230478., F., Amasino, R., Brossard, D., Buell, C.R., Dixon, R.A., Falk-Zepeda, J., Gallo, M., Giller, K.E., Griffin, T., Glenna, L., Magraw, D., Mallory-Smith, C., Pixley, K., Ransom, E., Stelly, D. and Stewart, Jr, C.N. (2022). Toward product-based regulation of crop varieties and foods. Science 377, 1051-1053.
  5. Yu, K., Dixon, R.A. and Duan, C. (2022) A role for ascorbate conjugates of (+)-catechin in proanthocyanidin polymerization. Nature Communications 13, 3425,
  6. Zhuo, C., Wang, X., Docampo-Palacios, M., Xiao, X., Sanders, B.C., Engle, N.L., Tschaplinski, T.J., Hendry J., Maranas, C., Chen, F. and Dixon, R.A. (2022) Developmental changes in lignin composition are driven by both monolignol supply and laccase specificity. Science Advances 8, eabm8145, 9 March 2022.
  7. Jun, J.H., Lu, N., Docampo-Palacios, M.L., Wang, X. and Dixon, R.A. (2021) Dual activity of anthocyanidin reductase supports the dominant proanthocyanidin extension unit pathway. Science Advances 7, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abg4682
  8. Zhou, C., Wang, X., Docampo-Palacios, M., Xiao, X., Sanders, B.C., Engle, N.L., Tschaplinski, T.J., Hendry J., Maranas, C., Chen, F. and Dixon, R.A. (2022) Developmental changes in lignin composition are driven by both monolignol supply and laccase specificity. Science Advances 8, eabm8145, 9 March 2022.
  9. Liu, C., Yu, H., Rao, X., Li, L. and Dixon, R.A. (2021) Abscisic acid regulates secondary cell wall formation and lignin deposition in Arabidopsis thaliana through phosphorylation of NST1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
  10. Wang, X., Zhuo, C., Xiao, X., Wang, X., Docampo-Palacios, M.L., Chen, F. and Dixon, R.A. (2020). Substrate-specificity of LACCASE 8 facilitates polymerization of caffeyl alcohol for C-lignin biosynthesis in the seed coat of Cleome hassleriana. Plant Cell. DOI: (with In Brief commentary article).
  11. Gallego-Giraldo, L., Liu, C., Pose-Albacete, S., Pattathil, S., Peralta, A.G., Young, J., Westphaling, J., Hahn, M., Rao, X., de Meester, B., Knox, J.P., Boerjan, W. and Dixon, R.A. (2020). ARABIDOPSIS DEHISCENCE ZONE POLYGALACTURONASE 1 (ADPG1) releases latent defense signals in stems with reduced lignin content. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 117: 3281-3290. (with Commentary article by Voxeur and Hofte). F1000 prime recommended.
  12. Wang, L., Cui, J., Jin, B., Zhao, J., Xu H., Lu Z., Li W., Li X., Li L., Liang E., Rao X., Wang S., Fu C., Cao F., Dixon R.A. and Lin J. (2020). Multi-feature analyses of vascular cambial cells reveal longevity mechanisms in old Ginkgo biloba trees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 117: 2201-2210
  13. Vermaas, J.V., Dixon, R.A., Chen, F., Mansfield, S.D., Boerjan, W., Ralph, J., Crowley, M.F. and Beckham, G.T (2019). Passive membrane transport of lignin-related compounds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 116: 23117-23123.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.