Faculty Picture

Duane McKenna

Assistant Professor

Ellington 325
Office Hours
by appointment

About Dr. McKenna

I came to the University of Memphis in 2010 from a Ph.D. (Organismic and Evolutionary Biology) and Postdoc at Harvard University I am an insect systematist and evolutionary biologist. My taxonomic specialty is beetles (order Coleoptera; ~400,000 described species), particularly the Phytophaga, a huge clade containing ~140,000 species, comprised of the weevils, leaf beetles, longhorned beetles, and relatives, most of which feed on plants. My research employs large-scale molecular data sets, and information from museum specimens and field studies, to reconstruct relationships and timing and patterns of ecological and taxonomic diversification, with a focus on the evolution of beetle-plant interactions and phytophagy (plant-feeding). I am a member of the Insect 5000 Genomes (i5k) Pilot Project, through which I lead the Asian longhorned beetle genome project, and I am a collaborator on the 1,000 Insect Transcriptome Evolution (1KITE) Project. I am the PI on a 3-year US National Science Foundation grant (the 1K Weevils Project) which seeks to reconstruct the phylogeny of family Curculionidae (true weevils), using phylogenomic and morphological data. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Memphis, a faculty Associate of the Program in Bioinformatics and the Feinstone Center for Genomics at the University of Memphis, and a Research Associate in Entomology at the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology. I currently teach courses in Entomology (Biological Sciences 4900/6900) and Evolution (Biological Sciences 4100/6100).

Research Interests

  • Beetle systematics and evolution
  • Evolutionary ecology of insect-plant interactions
  • Biodiversity surveys and inventories involving beetles
  • Beetle comparative genomics


B.S Biology, minor in Chemistry, Western Michigan University; M.S. Entomology, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Ph.D. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Postdoc, Harvard University.

Recent Publications

  • McKenna, D.D. In Press. Molecular systematics of Coleoptera. In: Leschen, R.A.B., Beutel, R.G., and (Eds.). Handbook of Zoology. Volume I Arthropoda: Insecta. Coleoptera, Beetles. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Beutel, R.G., and D.D. McKenna. In Press. Coleoptera: Systematic position, basal branching pattern and early evolution. In: Leschen, R.A.B., Beutel, R.G., and (Eds.). Handbook of Zoology. Volume I Arthropoda: Insecta. Coleoptera, Beetles. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Scully, E.D., S.M. Geib, J.E. Carlson, M. Tien, D.D. McKenna, and K. Hoover. 2014. Functional genomics and microbiome profiling of the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) reveal new insights into the digestive physiology and nutritional ecology of wood-feeding beetles. BMC Genomics 15: 1096. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1096.
  • Misof, B., S. Liu, K. Meusemann, R.S. Peters, A. Donath, C. Mayer, P.B. Frandsen, J. Ware, T. Flouri, R.G. Beutel, O. Niehuis, M. Petersen, F. Izquierdo-Carrasco, T. Wappler, J. Rust, A. J. Aberer, U. Aspock, H. Aspock, D. Bartel, A. Blanke, S. Berger, A. Bohm, T. Buckley, B. Calcott, J. Chen, F. Friedrich, M. Fukui, M. Fujita, C. Greve, P. Grobe, S. Gu, Y. Huang, L.S. Jermiin, A.Y. Kawahara, L. Krogmann, M. Kubiak, R. Lanfear, H. Letsch, Y. Li, Z. Li, J. Li, H. Lu, R. Machida, Y. Mashimo, P. Kapli, D.D. McKenna, G. Meng, Y. Nakagaki, J.L. Navarrete-Heredia, M. Ott, Y. Ou, G. Pass, L. Podsiadlowski, H. Pohl, B.M. v. Reumont, K. Schutte, K. Sekiya, S. Shimizu, A. Slipinski, A. Stamatakis, W. Song, X. Su, Nikolaus U. Szucsich, M. Tan, X. Tan, M. Tang, J. Tang, G. Timelthaler, S. Tomizuka, M. Trautwein, X. Tong, T. Uchifune, M.G. Walzl, B. Wiegmann, J. Wilbrandt, B. Wipfler, K. F. Wong, Q. Wu, G. Wu, Y. Xie, S. Yang, Q. Yang, D.K. Yeates, K. Yoshizawa, Q. Zhang, R. Zhang, W. Zhang, Y. Zhang, J. Zhao, C. Zhou, L. Zhou, T. Ziesmann, S. Zou, Y. Li, X. Xu, Y. Zhang, H. Yang, J. Wang, J. Wang, K.M. Kjer, and X. Zhou. Phylogenomics Resolves the Timing and Pattern of Insect Evolution. 2014. Science 346: 763-767. (Cover)
  • Evans, A.M., McKenna, D.D., Bellamy, C.L., and B.D. Farrell. Large-scale molecular phylogeny of metallic wood-boring beetles (Buprestidae and Schizopodidae) provides new insights into relationships and reveals multiple evolutionary origins of the larval leaf-mining habit. 2014. Systematic Entomology DOI: 10.1111/syen.12108
  • D.D. McKenna, B.D. Farrell, M.S. Caterino, C.W. Farnum, D.C. Hawks, D.R. Maddison, A.E. Seago, A.E.Z. Short, A.F. Newton, and M.K. Thayer. 2014. Phylogeny and evolution of Staphyliniformia and Scarabaeiformia (rove and scarab beetles): Forest litter as a stepping-stone for diversification of non-phytophagous beetles. Systematic Entomology DOI: 10.1111/syen.12093
  • Hulcr, J., T.H. Atkinson, A.I. Cognato, B.H. Jordal, & D.D. McKenna. 2014. Morphology, Taxonomy, and Phylogenetics of Bark Beetles. In: F. Vega & R. Hofstetter (Eds.) Bark Beetles: Biology and Ecology of Native and Invasive Species
  • McKenna, D.D. 2014. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution of Coleoptera. In Beutel, R.G. & R.A.B. Leschen (Eds.) Handbook of Zoology. Volume IV. Arthropoda: Insecta. Part 38. Coleoptera, Beetles. Volume 3: Morphology and Systematics (Phytophaga). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.pp. 1-10
  • Wang, B., J.Y. Ma, D.D. McKenna, E.V. Yan, H.C. Zhang & E.A. Jarzembowski. 2013. The earliest known longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae: Prioninae) and implications for the early evolution of Chrysomeloidea. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology DOI: 10.1080/14772019
  • Niehuis, O., G. Hartig, S. Grath, H. Pohl, J. Lehmann, H. Tafer, A. Donath, V. Krauss, C. Eisenhardt, J. Hertel, M. Petersen, C. Mayer, K. Meusemann, R. Peters, P. Stadler, R. Beutel, E. Bornberg-Bauer, D.D. McKenna & B. Misof. 2012. Genomic and morphological evidence converge to resolve the enigma of Strepsiptera. Current Biology. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2012.05.018 (Cover)