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Thomas A Richards Evolutionary Biologist

Thomas Richards’ research group studies the evolution and diversity of protists and fungi. His research currently focuses on four core projects: 1) using molecular and cellular approaches to investigate the uncultured majority, their biology and how they fit into the tree of life, 2) comparative genomics and the evolution of cellular traits, focusing on ancestral gene repertoire reconstruction in order to understand major evolutionary transitions (e.g. the origin of the fungi), 3) the role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in trait evolution, e.g. osmotrophy and/or parasitic mechanisms, and 4) cell-cell interactions between Paramecium bursaria and their transient endosymbiotic algae.


Philip Leverhulme Prize, 2014.

Royal Society University Research Fellowship, 2014.

EMBO Young Investigator, 2012.

British Mycological Society Berkeley Award, 2012.

President's Medal for Cell Biology, Society for Experimental Biology, 2009.

Relevant Publications

A. Chambouvet et al, “Cryptic infection of a broad taxonomic and geographic diversity of tadpoles by Perkinsea protists,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, vol. 112, no. 34, pp. E4743-E4751, 2015

G. A. Avelar et al, “A rhodopsin-guanylyl cyclase gene fusion functions in visual perception in a fungus,” Curr. Biol., vol. 24, no. 11, pp. 1232-1240, 2014.

G. Leonard and T.A. Richards, “Genome-scale comparative analysis of gene fusions, gene fissions and the fungal tree of life,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, vol. 109, no. 52, pp. 21402-21407, 2012.

T.A. Richards et al, “Horizontal gene transfer facilitated the evolution of plant parasitic mechanisms in the oomycetes,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, vol. 108, no. 37, pp. 15258-15263, 2011.

M.D.M. Jones et al, “Discovery of novel intermediate forms redefines the fungal tree of life,” Nature, vol. 474, no. 7350, pp. 200-203, 2011.



Fellow Integrated Microbial Biodiversity


University of ExeterCollege of Life and Environmental Sciences


PhD University of Oxford and the Natural History Museum

MSc (Integrative Bioscience) University of Oxford

BSc (Human Sciences) University College, London


United Kingdom

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