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Lindsey McGee
Assistant Professor of Biology

Lindsey McGee is a microbial evolutionary biologist interested in host range expansion of virus populations. She contributes to the core courses in the Biology Department, as well as upper-level Biology courses focusing on cellular and molecular biology in the context of ecological and evolutionary mechanisms.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 3



139 Stanley Hall

Office Hours
Open Door Policy


  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Public Health
  • Quality Science


  • Ph.D., University of Louisville
  • B.S., Centre College

Selected Courses:

BIOL 461: Microbiology
BIOL 341: Cell Physiology
BIOL 382: Viral Disease Ecology
BIOL 112: Cells, Genes and Inheritance
BIOL 200: Epidemiology
August Term PLACE Program: The Science of Baking and Brewing

I am interested in the evolution of host range expansion of virus populations. Emerging diseases are often the product of a host shift, which occurs when a parasite jumps from its original host and into a novel host species. By understanding the evolutionary mechanisms underlying changes in host range, we may be able to better respond to, and even prevent, future shifts of disease-causing viruses.

Viruses differ in the numbers of host species they infect. Some strains successfully infect a range of species. Tobacco mosaic virus, for instance, can infect nine different plant families and at least 125 individual species. Others, such as poliovirus, infect only a single host. Host-range shifts in viruses and the evolutionary consequences of those shifts have implications to human health and agriculture. Natural shifts in host range have been the cause of some major epidemics in humans and other animals, such as HIV, the Spanish flu, and the recent Ebola virus epidemic.

Bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacterial cells and are among the best-characterized groups of organisms, serve as a great model system due to their small genome sizes, allowing for full-genome sequencing to elucidate the relationships between genotype, phenotype, and fitness. Students in my research group have worked to identify the natural host ranges of bacteriophages initially isolated on a single host, Escherichia coli strain C. These well-characterized viruses are all of the same family of Microviridae, but differ vastly in the number and type of bacterial species they can successfully infect. We have conducted a series of gene swap experiments of these closely related bacteriophage species with different host ranges to determine which genes are responsible for these variations in host range. Insights from these studies regarding the evolution and genomics of host range will inform our understanding of viral emergence.

2017 Sackman, A.M., L.W. McGee, A.J. Morrison, J. Pierce, J. Anisman, H. Hamilton, S. Sanderbeck, C. Newman, and D.R. Rokyta. Mutation-driven parallel evolution during the first step of adaptation. Molecular Biology and Evolution; Submitted.

2016 McGee, L.W., A. Sackman, A.J. Morrison, J. Pierce, J. Anisman, D. Rokyta. Synergistic Pleiotropy Overrides the Costs of Complexity in Viral Adaptation. Genetics 202(1):285-95. doi: 10.1534/genetics.115.181628.

2014 McGee, L.W., B.S. Caudle, A.J. Morrison, E. Aitchison, W. Yang, D. Rokyta. Payoffs, not tradeoffs, in the adaptation of a virus to ostensibly conflicting selective pressures. Strong positive selection overrides pleiotropic costs of adaptation in ssDNA bacteriophages. Plos Genetics 10: e1004611.

2013 McGee, L.W. and S.K. Remold. Pleiotropic interactions involving virulence and replication rate in experimentally evolved vesicular stomatitis viruses. Ecology and Evolutionary Research (5).

2013 McGee, L.W. and S. K. Remold. The effects of pleiotropy on the evolution of host range. University of Louisville Graduate Dissertation.

American Society of Microbiology

Indiana Academy of Science

I teach at Earlham because of the amazing students, staff and other faculty that I have the privilege to work with. The students in particular are a joy to work with because they strive to make a positive change in the world, and my goal as a mentor is to support them in achieving their goals and aspirations. I love what I do, and when you love what you do, work no longer feels like work.

I enjoy spending time with my family, playing volleyball, cheering on the Quaker athletics, throwing pottery, painting, gardening and reading.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
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Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.