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Christina  Richards

Christina Richards

Christina Richards
Assistant Professor


Office: SCA 127
Phone: 813-974-5090
Lab: SCA 120, SCA 122
Fax: 974-3263


Personal Bio



Senior Postdoctoral associate, NYU, 2007-2009

Postdoctoral associate and research assistant professor, Stony Brook University, 2004-2006

Ph.D. University of Georgia, 2004

B.A. Biology, Swarthmore College, 1995


Plant ecological genetics and genomics, ecological and evolutionary epigenetics, plant ecophysiology, conservation genetics, global change biology.

Research Interests

My research interests incorporate genomics tools and approaches into robust ecological experiments because this will be a critical component of understanding how organisms respond to the ecological and evolutionary challenges of human alteration of the global environment. The rapidly escalating amount of genomic tools developed for model systems grown in controlled conditions can be used to examine the mechanisms of phenotypic response in a broad array of wild organisms and biologically relevant conditions. Also, several epigenetic mechanisms have dramatic effects on phenotype, even in the absence of changes in genotype, and there is increasing evidence that epigenetic processes are an important component of hybridization events and response to stressful environments. Hybridization and exposure to stressful conditions have been important in the evolutionary history of many plant species and especially in more recent, human mediated plant invasions. Therefore, investigating epigenetic effects in our experimental studies could significantly improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying phenotypic variation and the translation from genotype to phenotype. Placing genomics and systems biology within a classic ecological genetics framework allows us to investigate these components of plant response to natural and human altered environments. Current and future research in my laboratory include studies of 1) ecological genetics and genomics in coastal salt marsh plants to address ecological interactions and response to climate change; 2) how epigenetic effects contribute to phenotypic variation and ecological breadth in native and invasive plants; 3) experimental evolution of epigenetic effects in Arabidopsis 4) phenotypic plasticity in natural and agricultural systems in changing environments.

Specialty Area


Plant Ecological Genomics

Current Courses

RefCourseSecCourse TitleCRDayTimeLocation
88126BSC 4910035Undergraduate Research

TBA 100
85513BSC 6910024Directed Research

82180BSC 7910025Directed Research

87108BSC 7980026Dissertation: Doctoral


Recent Journal Articles


Christina Richards

Honors and Award






Recent Publications


Foust, C.M., V. Preite, A.W. Schrey, M. Alvarez, M.H. Robertson, K.J.F. Verhoeven and C.L. Richards. 2016. Genetic and epigenetic differences associated with environmental gradients in replicate populations of two salt marsh perennials. Molecular Ecology 25(8): 1639-52.

Robertson, M.H. and C.L. Richards. 2015 Opportunities and challenges of Next Generation Sequencing applications in ecological epigenetics. Molecular Ecology 24: 3799-3801.

Robertson, M.H. and C.L Richards. 2015. Non-genetic inheritance in evolutionary theory - the importance of plant studies. Non-Genetic Inheritance 2: 3-11.

Alvarez, M., A.W. Schrey and C.L. Richards. 2015. Ten years of transcriptomics in wild populations: what have we learned about their ecology and evolution? Molecular Ecology 24: 710–725.

Nicotra, A.B., D. Segal, G.L. Hoyle, A.W. Schrey, K.J.F. Verhoeven and C.L. Richards. 2015. Adaptive plasticity in response to warming in an Australian alpine herb. Ecology and Evolution 5(3): 634–647.

Foust, C.M., A.W. Schrey and C.L. Richards. 2015. Population epigenetics. In: Nuclear Functions in Plant Transcription, Signaling and Development. Jin, H. & O. Pontes, eds. Springer-Verlag. Pp. 165-179.

Schrey, A.W., H.J. Kilvitis, J.A. Banta and C.L. Richards. 2015. Ecological epigenetics in integrative biology. In: Integrative Biology. L.B. Martin, C.K. Ghalambor & H.A. Woods, eds. John Wiley & Sons. Pp. 109-118.

Kilvitis, H.J., M. Alvarez, C.M. Foust, A.W. Schrey, M.H. Robertson and C.L. Richards. 2014. Ecological epigenetics. In: Ecological Genomics. C.R. Landry & N. Aubin-Horth, eds. Springer. Series: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 781: 191-210.

Schrey, A. W., A. L. Liebl, C. L. Richards, and L. B. Martin. 2014. Range expansion of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in Kenya: evidence of genetic admixture and human-mediated dispersal. Journal of Heredity 105: 60-69.

Ledon-Rettig, C., C. L. Richards, and L. B. Martin. 2013. A place for behavior in ecological epigenetics. Behavioral Ecology 24: 329-330.

Kilvitis, H.J., M. Alvarez, C. Foust, A.W. Schrey, M.H. Robertson, C.L. Richards. 2014. Ecological epigenetics. In: Ecological Genomics. Landry, C.R. and N. Aubin-Horth eds. Springer. Series: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 781: 191-210.

Liebl, A.L., A.W. Schrey, C.L. Richards, L.B. Martin. 2013. Patterns of DNA methylation throughout a range expansion of an introduced songbird. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53: 351-358.

Schrey, A.W., M. Alvarez, C. Foust, H.J. Kilvitis, J.D. Lee, A.L. Liebl, L.B. Martin, C.L. Richards, M.H. Robertson. 2013. Ecological Epigenetics: Beyond MS-AFLP. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53: 340-350.

Ledon-Rettig, C., Richards, C.L., L.B. Martin. 2013. Behavioral epigenetics for ecologists. Behavioral Ecology 24: 311-324.

Ledon-Rettig, C., Richards, C.L., L.B. Martin. 2013. A place for behavior in ecological epigenetics. Behavioral Ecology 24: 329-330.

Richards, C.L.. 2012. Epigenetics: linking genotype and phenotype in development and evolution. Integrative and Comparative Biology 52(4):547-549.

Richards, C.L., A.W. Schrey, M. Pigliucci. 2012. Invasion of diverse habitats by few Japanese knotweed genotypes is correlated with high epigenetic differentiation. Ecology Letters 15: 1016-1025. Recommended to Faculty of 1000 by Elena Alvarez-Buylla, Eugenio Azpeitia and Mariana Benítez, 31 Dec 2012.

Richards, C.L., U. Rosas, J.A. Banta, N. Bhambra, M.D. Purugganan. 2012. Genome-wide patterns of Arabidopsis gene expression in nature. PLoS Genetics 8(4): e1002662. *shared first authorship.

Drenovsky, R.E., B.J. Grewell, C.M. D’Antonio, J.L. Funk, J.J. James, N. Molinari, I.M. Parker, Richards, C.L.,. 2012. A functional trait perspective on plant invasion: invasiveness to impacts in a changing world. Annals of Botany 110(1): 141-153. *shared first authorship.

Richards, C.L., K.J.F. Verhoeven, O. Bossdorf. 2012. Evolutionary significance of epigenetic variation. In: Plant Genome Diversity. J.F. Wendel, ed. Springer. Pp. 257-274.

Schrey, A.W., Richards, C.L.,. 2012. Within-genotype epigenetic variation enables broad niche width in a flower living yeast. Molecular Ecology 21: 2559-2561.

Schrey, A.W., Richards, C.L., V. Meller, V. Sollars , D.M. Ruden. 2012. The role of epigenetics in evolution: The extended synthesis. Genetics Research International, Article ID 286164.

Schrey, A.W., C.A.C. Coon, M.T. Grispo, M. Awad, T. Imboma, E.D. McCoy, H.R. Mushinsky, Richards, C.L., L.B. Martin. 2012. Epigenetic variation may compensate for decreased genetic variation with introductions: a case study using house sparrows (Passer domesticus) on two continents. Genetics Research International, Article ID 979751.

Martin, L.b., Liebl, A.L., Trotter, J.H., Richards, C.L., McCoy, K., and McCoy, M.W. 2011. Illuminating the black box linking genotype and phenotype. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51(4):514-527.

Richards, C.L., J.F. Wendel. 2011. The hairy problem of epigenetics in evolution. New Phytologist 191: 7-9.

Martin, L.B., A.L. Liebl, J.H. Trotter, Richards, C.L., K. McCoy, M.W. McCoy. 2011. Integrators: physiological determinants of phenotypic plasticity. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51: 514–527.

Richards, C.L.. 2010. The biology of coastal sand dunes. The Quarterly Review of Biology 85(3):354.

Nicotra, A.B., O.K. Atkin, S.P. Bonser, A. Davidson, E.J. Finnegan, U. Mathesius, P. Poot, M.D. Purugganan, Richards, C.L., F. Valladares, M. van Kleunan. 2010. Plant phenotypic plasticity in a changing climate. Trends in Plant Science 15(12): 684-692.

Richards, C.L., O. Bossdorf, K.J.F. Verhoeven. 2010. Understanding natural epigenetic variation. New Phytologist 187: 562-564.

Richards, C.L., J. Wares, J. Mackie. 2010. Evaluating Adaptive Processes for Conservation and Management of Estuarine and Coastal Resources. Estuaries and Coasts: Special Feature on Genetic Structure and Adaptation in Coastal Ecosystems 33: 805-810.

Richards, C.L. , S.N. White, M.A. McGuire, S.J. Franks, L.A. Donovan, R. Mauricio. 2010. Plasticity, not adaptation to salt level, explains variation along a salinity gradient in a salt marsh perennial. Estuaries and Coasts: Special Feature on Genetic Structure and Adaptation in Coastal Ecosystems 33: 840-852.

Richards, C.L. , O. Bossdorf, M. Pigliucci. 2010. What role does heritable epigenetic variation play in phenotypic evolution? Bioscience 60: 232-237.

Bossdorf, O., D. Arcurri, C.L. Richards, M. Pigliucci. 2010. Experimental alteration of DNA methylation affects the phenotypic plasticity of ecologically relevant traits in Arabidopsis thaliana. Evolutionary Ecology 24: 541-553.

Caicedo, A.L., C.L. Richards, I.M. Ehrenereich, M.D. Purugganan. 2009. Complex rearrangements lead to novel chimeric gene fusion polymorphisms at the Arabidopsis MAF2-5 flowering time gene cluster. Molecular Biology and Evolution 26: 699-711.

Richards, C.L., Y. Hanzawa, I.M. Ehrenreich, M. Katari, K.E. Engelmann, M.D. Purugganan. 2009. Perspectives on ecological and evolutionary systems biology. Plant Systems Biology. R.A. Gutierrez and G.M. Coruzzi, eds. Annual Plant Reviews, Vol. 35. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, UK.

Richards, C.L., R. Walls, J.P. Bailey, R. Parameswaran, T. George, M. Pigliucci. 2008. Plasticity in salt tolerance traits allows for invasion of salt marshes by Japanese knotweed s.l. (Fallopia japonica and F. xbohemica, Polygonaceae). American Journal of Botany 95: 931-942.

Bossdorf, O., C.L. Richards, M. Pigliucci. 2008. Epigenetics for ecologists. Ecology Letters 11: 106-115. Recommended to Faculty of 1000 by Brian Neff, February 22, 2008.

Richards, C.L., O. Bossdorf, N.Z. Muth, J. Gurevitch, M. Pigliucci. 2006. Jack of all trades, master of some? On the role of phenotypic plasticity in plant invasions. Ecology Letters 9: 981-993.

Richards, C.L., S.C. Pennings, L.A. Donovan. 2005. Habitat range and phenotypic variation in salt marsh plants. Plant Ecology 176: 263-273.

Richards, C.L., J. L. Hamrick, L.A. Donovan, R. Mauricio. 2004. Unexpectedly high clonal diversity of two salt marsh perennials across a severe environmental gradient. Ecology Letters 7: 1155-1162.

Franks, S.J., C.L. Richards, E. Gonzales, J. E. Cousins, J. L. Hamrick. 2004. Multi-scale genetic analysis of Uniola paniculata (Poaceae): a coastal species with a linear, fragmented distribution. American Journal of Botany 91: 1345-1351.

Callaway, R.M., S.C. Pennings, C.L. Richards. 2003. Phenotypic plasticity and interactions among plants. Ecology 84: 1115-1128.

Pennings, S.C., and Richards, C.L. 1998. Effects of wrack burial in salt-stressed habitats: Batis Maritima in a southwest Atlantic salt marsh. Ecology 21(6):630-638.