Eric Richards
Vice President for Research
Eric Richards




Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
125 Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Road
Ithaca, NY 14853-1801


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Department Profile


Eric Richards is Vice President for Research at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. He received a B.S. degree in Anthropology and Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt University in 1982 and a Ph.D. degree in Genetics from Harvard University in 1989. He was a Staff Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1989-1991, and Assistant, Associate and Professor in the Department of Biology at Washington University from 1992-2008. In 2008, he became a Scientist in the Boyce Thompson Institute on the Cornell Campus. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Research Description

Research in the Richards lab is broadly focused on epigenetics, the study of inherited information superimposed on the genetic sequence. Most of our efforts to date have concentrated on cytosine methylation, which is one of the most fundamental types of epigenetic information in eukaryotic cells. We are interested in both the regulation of cytosine methylation and the phenotypic consequences of variation in cytosine methylation patterns. Our work also extends to higher-order epigenetic information encoded in alternative chromatin packaging and the three-dimensional organization of the genetic material. Our studies take advantage of the genetic and genomic resources available in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana.

Selected Publications

Richards, E.J. 2011. Natural epigenetic variation in plant species: A view from the field. Curr Opin Plant Biol 14: 204-209

Rangwala, S.H. and Richards, E.J. 2010. The structure, organization and radiation of Sadhu non-long terminal repeat retroelements in Arabidopsis species. Mob DNA 1: 10

Richards, E.J. 2009. Quantitative epigenetics: DNA sequence variation need not apply. Gene Dev 23: 1601-1605

Dittmer, T.A., Stacey, N.J., Sugimoto-Shirasu, K., and Richards, E.J. 2007. LITTLE NUCLEI genes affecting nuclear morphology in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell 19: 2793-2803

Rangwala, S.H., and Richards, E.J. 2007. Differential epigenetic regulation within an Arabidopsis retroposon family. Genetics 176: 151-160

Woo, H.R., Pontes, O., Pikaard, C.S., and Richards, E.J. 2007. VIM1, a methylcytosine-binding protein required for centromeric heterochromatinization. Genes Dev 21: 267-277

Yi, H., and Richards, E.J. 2007. A cluster of disease resistance genes in Arabidopsis is coordinately regulated by transcriptional activation and RNA silencing. Plant Cell 19: 2929-2939

Kuo, H.-F., Olsen, K.M., and Richards, E.J. 2006. Natural variation in a subtelomeric region of Arabidopsis: implications for the genomic dynamics of a chromosome end. Genetics 173: 401-417

Rangwala, R, Elumalai, R., Vanier, C, Ozkan, H., Galbraith, D.W., and Richards, E.J. 2006. Meiotically-stable natural epialleles of Sadhu, a novel Arabidopsis retroposon.. PLoS Genet 2: e36

Richards, E.J. 2006. Inherited epigenetic variation . Nat. Rev. Genet 7: 395-401

Riddle, N.C., and Richards, E.J. 2005. Genetic variation in epigenetic inheritance of ribosomal gene methylation in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal 41: 524-532

Kankel, M.W., Ramsey, D.E., Stokes, T.L., Flowers, S.K., Haag, J.R., Jeddeloh, J.A., Riddle, N.C., Verbsky, M.L., and Richards, E.J. 2003. Arabidopsis MET1 cytosine methyltransferase mutants. Genetics 163: 1109-1122

Riddle, N.C., and Richards, E.J. 2002. The control of natural variation in cytosine methylation in Arabidopsis. Genetics 162: 355-363

Stokes, T.L., Kunkel, B.N., and Richards, E.J. 2002. Epigenetic variation in Arabidopsis disease resistance. Genes Dev 16: 171-182

Stokes, T.L., and Richards, E.J. 2002. Induced instability of two Arabidopsis constitutive pathogen-response alleles. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99: 7792-7796

Jeddeloh, J.A, Bender, J., and Richards, E.J. 1998. The DNA methylation locus DDM1 is required for maintenance of gene silencing in Arabidopsis. Genes Dev 12: 1714-1725

Jeddeloh, J.A., Stokes, T.L., and Richards, E.J. 1998. Maintenance of genomic methylation requires a SWI2/SNF2-like protein. Nature Genet 22: 94-97

Kakutani, T., Jeddeloh, J.A., Flowers, S., Munakata, K., and Richards, E.J. 1996. Developmental abnormalities and epimutations associated with DNA hypomethylation mutations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93: 12406-12411

Vongs, A., Kakutani, T., Martienssen, R., and Richards, E.J. 1993. Arabidopsis thaliana DNA methylation mutants. Science 260: 1926-1928