You are here

You are here

Suzanne McGaugh

Assistant Professor


Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2009


In the McGaugh Lab, we focus on two main topics. Some of the most fundamental biological questions involve how, why, and how fast organisms can adapt to new environments and whether evolution would proceed down the same path if repeated in an independent event. Cases of repeated evolution offer a window into understanding whether certain types of genetic variants are more likely than others to consistently contribute to evolutionary change. For this work, we interrogate genomes for signatures left by local adaptation in cavefish. Cavefish in northern Mexico have lost their eyes and pigment and experience changes in metabolism and behavior. These changes have occurred independently in multiple cave populations. This repeated evolution offers an opportunity to understand specific characteristics of targets of selection that are repeatedly responsible for phenotypic change.

Another main topic we investigate is how recombination shapes genomes. Variation in recombination rates can produce differences in effective population size experienced by different parts of the genome. In part, this translates to the observation that in regions with high recombination, selection is more efficient than in regions with low recombination. This relationship between recombination and selection shapes nucleotide diversity within species across a wide range of taxa, and recombination can have substantial impacts on genomic features such as GC content and indel distributions. Recombination rate, however, is often measured on a very broad scale across a species’ genome, though this vastly underestimates the variation seen between sexes, between chromosomes, even within chromosomes across several kilobases, and across different environments. Thus, we are uncovering the causes and implications of recombination rate differences in ecological model species.

Lastly, our lab participates in large-scale collaborative projects, mostly investigating population genomics, conservation genetics, and molecular evolution in vertebrates.

Selected Publications

McGaugh, S.E., A.M. Bronikowski, C-H Kuo, D.M. Reding, E.A. Addis, L.E. Flagel, F.J. Janzen, T.S. Schwartz, Rapid molecular evolution across amniotes of the IIS/TOR network (Insulin and Insulin-like Signaling/Target of Rapamycin). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1419659112

O’Quin, K. and S.E. McGaugh. 2015. The genetic bases of troglomorphy in Astyanax: How far we have come and where do we go from here? in Biology and Evolution of the Mexican Cavefish. eds Harold Burgess, Alex Keene, Suzanne McGaugh, and Masato Yoshizawa, Elsevier, in press

McGaugh, S.E., J.B. Gross, B. Aken, M. Blin, R. Borowsky, D. Chalopin, H. Hinaux, W. R. Jeffery, A. Keene, L. Ma, P. Minx, D. Murphy, K.E. O’Quin, S. Rétaux, N. Rohner, S.M.J. Searle, B.A. Stahl, C. Tabin, J.-N. Volff, M. Yoshizawa, W.C. Warren. 2014. The cavefish genome reveals candidate genes for eye loss. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6307

Sethuraman, A., S.E. McGaugh, C.H. Chandler, J.L. Christiansen, S. Hayden, A. LeClere, J. Monson-Miller, E.M. Myers, R.T. Paitz, J.M. Refsnider, T. VanDeWalle & F.J. Janzen. 2014. Molecular phylogeography and population genetics of Blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii) in the midwestern United States. Conservation Genetics. 15:61–73 doi:10.​1007/​s10592-013-0521-8

The Painted Turtle Genome Consortium. 2013. The western painted turtle genome, a model for the evolution of extreme physiological adaptations in a slowly evolving lineage. Genome Biology 14: R28.

McGaugh, S.E., C.Heil, B. Manzano-Winkler, L. Loewe, S. Goldstein, T. Himmel & M.A.F. Noor. 2012. Recombination modulates how selection affects linked sites in Drosophila. PLoS Biology. 10:e1001422.

Hoehn, K.B., S.E. McGaugh & M.A.F. Noor. 2012. Genomic effects of premature termination codon polymorphisms in the Drosophila pseudoobscura subclade. Journal of Molecular Evolution. 75: 141-150.

McGaugh, S.E. 2012. Comparative population genetics of aquatic turtles in the desert. Conservation Genetics 13:1561–1576.

McGaugh, S.E. & M.A.F. Noor. 2012. Genomic impacts of chromosomal inversions in parapatric Drosophila species. Transactions of Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 367: 422-429.

McGaugh, S.E., R.M. Bowden, C.-H. Kuo & F. J. Janzen. 2011. Field-measured narrow sense heritability of the threshold for sex determination in a turtle with temperature dependent sex-determination. Evolutionary Ecology Research 13: 75-90.

McGaugh, S.E. & F.J. Janzen. 2011. Effective heritability of targets of sex-ratio selection under environmental sex determination. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 784-794.

McGaugh, S.E., L.E. Schwanz, R.M. Bowden, J.E. Gonzalez & F.J. Janzen. 2010. Inheritance and plasticity of nest-site choice in the field in a turtle with temperature-dependent sex determination. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 277: 1219-1226.


Additional Links

McGaugh Lab Homepage











100 Ecology
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108