David Queller

David Queller


Program Director, Evolution, Ecology & Population Biology
Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology
research interests:
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Evolution of Altruistic Behavior
  • Parent-Offspring Conflict
  • Conflict and Cooperation in Social Insects and Social Amoebae
  • Mating Systems and Sexual Selection in Plants and Animals

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1137
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Queller is 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. 

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.

In empirical studies with Joan Strassmann, David Queller studies cooperation both among social amoebas and between these amoebas and bacterial symbionts. They do genomic studies to study adaptation in the past and experimental evolution to study it in real time. On the theoretical side, he explores this evolution of cooperation with models using population genetics, inclusive fitness, or game theory.

Selected Publications

See Professor Queller's complete publication list on his Google Scholar profile.

Noh, S., Geist, K.S., Tian, X., Strassmann, J.E. and Queller, D.C.  2018.  Genetic signatures of microbial altruism and cheating in social amoebas in the wildProc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA  online ahead of print: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1720324115

Queller, D.C. 2017. Fundamental theorems in evolution.  American Naturalist  189:345-353.

Queller, D.C.  and Strassmann, J.E.  2016. Problems of multi-species organisms: endosymbionts to holobionts. Biology and Philosophy 31:855-873. 10.1007/s10539-016-9547-x

Queller, D.C.  2016.  Kin selection and its discontents.  Philosophy of Science. 83: 861–872.

Smith, J., Strassmann, J.E. & Queller, D.C.  2016.  Fine-scale spatial ecology drives kin selection relatedness among cooperating amoebae.  Evolution 70:848-859.

Galbraith, D.A., Kocher, S.D., Glenn, T., Albert, I., Hunt, G.J., Strassmann, J.E., Queller, D.C.,  and Grozinger, C.M.  2016.  Testing the Kinship Theory of Intragenomic Conflict in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera).  Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 113:1020-1025.

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.

Liao, X., Rong, S. & Queller, D.C.  2015.  Relatedness, conflict, and the evolution of eusociality.  PLoS Biology 13(3): e1002098. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002098

Queller, D.C.  2014.  Joint phenotypes, evolutionary conflict, and the fundamental theorem of natural selection.  Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B  369:20130423 doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0423.

Strassmann, J.E. and Queller, D.C.  2014.  Privatization and property in biology.  Animal Behaviour 92:305-311.