Headed by Joan Strassmann and David Queller the Queller/Strassmann Group also includes a team of undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs working on the evolution of social interactions in context that involve cooperation, conflict, or both. The group began their research working on wasps and stingless bees, however, recently their focus has shifted toward the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum.
Using the well developed genetic and genomic resources of D. discoideum they are attempting to put a molecular and mechanistic face on the processes of social evolution. Their current project is finding genes and molecular pathways underlying sociality, then using these to understand how cheating is controlled. The group is also studying variation in these genes both between and within species to test whether sociality drives evolutionary “arms races” and to understand how selection has operated on social traits in the wild.
David Queller and Joan Strassmann are also teaming with geneticists and developmental biologists Adam Kuspa, professor of developmental biology, and Gad Shaulsky, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics, from Baylor College of Medicine to study the causes, mechanisms and effects of social evolution.