Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1137
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
DBBS graduate programs Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology Program
Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program
Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program
The evolution of life has resulted in the cooperative aggregation of cohesive units that prosper together. These units may be the same, as with the evolution of multicellularity, or they may be different, as with the evolution of the eukaryote cell. For such cooperation to evolve, conflicts at lower levels must be controlled. We study the evolution of cooperation and the control of conflict in a microbial eukaryote, the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. It is uniquely suitable for this work because transitions that are fixed in most organisms are still flexible. This amoeba preys on bacteria but, when starved, aggregates into a multicellular body that moves towards light, and then differentiates into 20% dead stalk cells that support 80% living spore cells. When the multicellular stage is chimeric, the opportunity for one clone to cheat the other arises. We identify genes involved in this process, look at their rates of evolution using 20 resequenced clones and a handful of sequenced closely related species. We use experimental evolution to look at the robustness of the social process and the importance of high genetic relatedness within fruiting bodies in maintaining the altruistic caste. We explore kin recognition and its genetic basis. We study the evolution of development by constructing pseudo-organisms with artificial life cycles where we manipulate things like single-cell bottlenecks. We have found that some clones carry bacteria with them in a farming and defensive mutualism, and use this to experimentally study mutualism. In sum, our group studies what’s crucial to organismality.
DiSalvo, S., Haselkorn, T. S., Bashir, U., *Jimenez, D. A., Brock, D. A., Queller, D. C., Strassmann, J. E. 2015. Burkholderia bacteria infectiously induce the proto-farming symbiosis of Dictyostelium amoebae and food bacteria. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 112 E5029 – E5037 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1511878112
Ostrowski, E.A., Shen, Y., Tian, X., Sucgang, R., Jiang, H., Qu, J., Katoh-Kurasawa, M., Brock, D.A., Dinh, C., Lara-Garduno, F., Lee, S.L., Kovar, C.L., Dinh, H.H., Korchina, V., Jackson, L., Patil, S., Han, Y., Chaboub, L., Shaulsky, G., Muzny, D.M., Worley, K.C., Gibbs, R.A., Richards, S., Kuspa, A., Strassmann, J.E., and Queller, D.C. 2015. Genomic Signatures of Cooperation and Conflict in the Social Amoeba. Current Biology 25: 1661-1665.
*Levin, S. R., Brock, D. A., Queller, D. C., Strassmann, J. E. 2015. Concurrent co-evolution of intra-organismal cheaters and resisters Journal of Evolutionary Biology DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12618
smith, j. Queller, D. C., and Strassmann J. E. 2014. Fruiting bodies of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum increase spore transport by Drosophila. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14:105. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-105
Strassmann, J.E. and Queller, D.C. 2014. Privatization and property in biology. Animal Behaviour 92: 305 – 311 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.02.011.
Werner. G.D.A, Strassmann, J.E., Ivens, A.B.F. , Engelmoer, D.J.P. , Verbruggen, E., Queller, D.C. , Nöe, R., Johnson, N.C. , Hammerstein, P., E. Kiers, E.T. 2014. The evolution of microbial markets. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111:1237-1244.
Queller, D. C. & Strassmann, J. E. 2013. The veil of ignorance can favor biological cooperation. Biology Letters 9(6) 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0365
Stallforth, P., Brock, D. A., Cantley, A. M., Tian, X., Queller, D.C., Strassmann, J.E. and Clardy, J. 2013. A bacterial symbiont is converted from an inedible producer of beneficial molecules into food by a single mutation in the gacA gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. doi:10.1073/pnas.1308199110
Kuzdzal-Fick, J. J., Strassmann, J. E., & Queller, D. C. 2011. High relatedness is necessary and sufficient to maintain multicellularity in Dictyostelium. Science 334: 1548-1550. DOI: 10.1126/science.1213272.
Strassmann, J. E. & Queller, D. C. 2011. Evolution of cooperation and control of cheating in a social microbe. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108:10855-10862.
Strassmann, J. E., Gilbert, O. M., & Queller, D. C. 2011. Kin discrimination and cooperation in microbes. Annual Review of Microbiology 65:349-367.
Richard Sucgang, Alan Kuo, Xiangjun Tian, … Joan E Strassmann, David C Queller, Adam Kuspa, Igor V Grigoriev, 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 amoeba. Nature 469:393-396.
Strassmann, J. E. and Queller, D. C. 2010. The social organism: congresses, parties, committees. Evolution 64:605-616