Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1137
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
Evolution usually favors “selfish” individuals that outcompete others, but it has nevertheless forged highly cooperative entities like social insect colonies, multicellular organisms, and the eukaryotic cell. I am interested in how cooperation and altruism evolve, with questions ranging from the genetic and molecular details of cooperation in social amoebas up to the nature of organisms. In empirical studies with Joan Strassmann, we have largely shifted from work on social insects to social amoebas. This gives us the opportunity to do experimental evolution studies and to study cooperation, cheating, and kin recognition at the genetic, molecular and genomic levels. On the theoretical side, I explore this evolution of cooperation with models using population genetics, inclusive fitness, or game theory. Future directions may include the evolution of multicellularity and genomic imprinting in social insects.
Figure Caption: Aggregation of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. When starved, thousands of cells aggregate and then form a fruiting body, with 20% altruistically sacrificing themselves to build a stalk. The csaA gene acts to exclude non-bearers during aggregation, the best example of an altruistic green-beard allele that preferentially favors copies of itself in others (Queller et al. 2003)
Gilbert, O. M., Strassmann, J.E., & Queller, D.C. 2012. High relatedness in a social amoebae: the role of kin discrimination. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. in press. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.2514
Kuzdzal-Fick, J.A., Fox, S.A., Strassmann, J.E. & Queller, D. C. 2011. High relatedness is necessary and sufficient to maintain multicellularity in Dictyostelium. Science 334: 1548-1551.
Queller, D. C. 2011. Expanded social fitness and Hamilton's rule for kin kith, and kind. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108: 10792-10799.
Sucgang, R., Kuo, A., ….. Strassmann, J.E., Queller, D.C., Kuspa, A., and Grigoriev, I.V., 2011 Comparative genomics of the social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum and Dictyostelium purpureum. Genome Biology 2011, 12:R20.
Brock, D.A., Douglas, T.E., Queller, D.C. & Strassmann, J.E. 2011. Primitive agriculture in a social microbe. Nature 469:393-396.
Tian, X., Strassmann, J.E. and Queller, D.C. 2011. Genome Nucleotide Composition Shapes Variation in Simple Sequence Repeats. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28: 899-909
Queller, D. C. and Strassmann, J. E. 2010. Complex societies: eusociality and multicellularity. In: Westneat, D. and Fox, C. eds. Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 327-340.
Queller, D. C. and Strassmann, J. E. 2009. Beyond society: the evolution of organismality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 364:3143-3155.
Khare, A., Santorelli, L.A., Strassmann, J.E., Queller, D.C., Kuspa, A. and Shaulsky, G. 2009. Cheater-resistance is not futile. Nature 461, 980-982.
Gilbert, O. G., Foster, K. R., Mehdiabadi, N. J., Strassmann, J. E., & Queller, D. C. 2007. Control of a cheater mutant by kin selection Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 8913-8917.