Adam McLain

Adam McLain

Adam McLain
Associate Professor of Biology


Phone Number:
Office Address:
Donovan Hall
Biology + Chemistry Department
College of Arts + Sciences


Ph.D., Biology, Louisiana State University, 2013
M.A., Anthropology, Hunter College of the City University of New York, 2009
B.A., History, Virginia Tech, 2002

Research Interests

A major focus of my lab’s research is the evolutionary history and population genetics of lemurs, Strepshirrine primates endemic to the island of Madagascar. Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot under critical threat from human activity, and most lemur species are endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching. I use a combination of fieldwork, laboratory and computational biology to look at evolutionary relationships between species and the genetics of endangered populations. I am hopeful that one result of this research might be better protection for lemurs and the environments they occupy, and a secure future for them in a world with ever-fewer wild places. Some specific, ongoing areas of research include speciation in dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus), and mobile DNA in the aye-aye (Daubentonia) genome. I am a member of the Mouse Lemur Genome Project based out of Baylor University, as well as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Utica Zoo. In 2017, colleagues and I identified a new species of dwarf lemur, the Groves’ dwarf lemur (C. grovesi) from southeastern Madagascar. In 2022 I led a joint expedition with the University of Antananarivo to the remote island of Nosy Hara, northern Madagascar, with the goal of collecting genetic material and other information about an isolated population of dwarf lemurs.

The second focus of my lab’s research is on the effect of DNA methylation on the promoter regions of genes related to lifespan. CpG islands are regions in the genome with a higher percentage of C and G base pairs, pairings that are more resistant to the impact of DNA methylation. We are currently examining the impact of CpG site density in these promoter regions to try to determine correlation between this and organismal lifespan., among other questions.

My lab’s work is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging and the SUNY Research Foundation.


Selected Publications

Flack, N, M Drown, C Walls, J Pratte, A McLain, C Faulk. 2023. Chromosome-level, nanopore-only genome and allele-specific DNA methylation of Pallas’s cat, Otocolobus manul. NAR Genomics & Bioinformatics doi:

Wanner N, PA Larsen, A McLain, C Faulk. 2021. The mitochondrial genome and Epigenome of the Golden lion Tamarin from fecal DNA using Nanopore adaptive sequencing. BMC Genomics 22: 726.

McLain, AT & C Faulk. 2018. The evolution of CpG density and lifespan in conserved primate and mammalian promoters. Aging. (

McLain, AT, R Lei, CL Frasier, JM Taylor, CA Bailey, B Roberts, SD Nash, R Randriamampionona, RA Mittermeier, and EE Louis, Jr. 2017. A new Cheirogaleus (Cheirogaleidae: Cheirogaleus crossleyi Group) Species from Southeastern Madagascar. Primate Conservation (31).

Lei, R, CL Fraiser, MTR Hawkins, SE Engberg, CA Bailey, SE Johnson, AT McLain, CP Groves, GH Perry, SD Nash, RA Mittermeier, and EE Louis, Jr. 2016. Phylogenomic reconstruction of the sportive lemurs (genus Lepilemur) recovered from mitogenomes with inferences for Madagascar biogeography. Journal of Heredity 108 (2): 107-119. Cover.

Frasier, CL, R Lei, AT McLain, JM Taylor, CA Bailey, AL Ginter, SD Nash, R. Randriamampionona, CP Groves, RA Mittermeier, and EE Louis, Jr. 2016. A new species of the Cheirogaleus medius group (Cheirogaleidae) from the Ankarana and Andrafiamena-Andavakoera Massifs, Madagascar. Primate Conservation (30).

Brenneman, RA, AT McLain, JR Zaonarivelo, R Lei, SM McGuire, R Andriantompohavana, and EE Louis, Jr. 2016. Genetic analysis of the genus Indri reveals a single monotypic species (I. indri) with no evidence in support of distinct subspecies. International Journal of Primatology 37 (3): 460-477.

Bailey, CA, AT McLain, G Rakotoarisoa, A Razafindrakoto, SM McGuire, GD Shore, R Lei, SR Paquette, JC Randriamanana, JD Rabekianja, RA Brenneman, and EE Louis, Jr. 2016. Impact of ascertainment bias on the population genetic analysis of three sifaka species from northern Madagascar: Implications for the critically endangered Perrier’s sifaka (Propithecus perrieri). Journal of Primatology.

Lei, R, AT McLain, CL Frasier, JM Taylor, CA Bailey, SE Engberg, AL Ginter, SD Nash, R Randriamampionona, CP Groves, RA Mittermeier, and EE Louis, Jr. 2015. A new species in the Genus Cheirogaleus (Cheirogaleidae). Primate Conservation (29). Cover.

Lei, R, CL Frasier, AT McLain, JM Taylor, CA Bailey, SE Engberg, AL Ginter, CP Groves, RA Mittermeier, and EE Louis, Jr. 2014. Revision of Madagascar’s dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Cheirogaleus): designation of species, candidate species status and geographic boundaries based on molecular and morphological data. Primate Conservation (28): 9-35.

McLain, AT, GW Carman*, ML Fullerton*, TO Beckstrom*, W Gensler*, TJ Meyer, C Faulk, and MA Batzer. 2013. Analysis of western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) specific Alu repeats. Mobile DNA 4:26. (Highly Accessed).

McLain, AT, TJ Meyer, C Faulk, S Herke, JM Oldenburg*, MG Bourgeois*, C Abshire*, C Roos and MA Batzer. 2012. An Alu-based phylogeny of lemurs (Infraorder: Lemuriformes). PLoS ONE 7(8): e44035. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044035.

Meyer, TJ, AT McLain, JM Oldenburg*, C Faulk, MG Bourgeois, EM Conlin*, AR Mootnick, PJ de Jong, C Roos, L Carbone and MA Batzer. 2012. An Alu-based phylogeny of gibbons (Hylobatidae). Molecular Biology and Evolution. 29 (11): 3441-3450.


Courses currently or formerly taught at SUNY Poly include BIO 103 Introduction to Biology for Majors (Lecture & Lab), BIO 351 Genetics, BIO 380 Evolution, BIO 401 Phylogenetics and BIO 490 Primatology.


Twitter: @TheLemurGuy


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