Strassmann’s work investigates cooperative alliances that have occurred at several important steps in the evolution of life, and have proven evolutionarily and ecologically very successful. Studying how these alliances came to be, how conflicts are subsumed into cooperation, what conflicts remain, and how they influence sociality comprise her dominant research interests.
Joan E. Strassmann is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studies the evolution of conflict and cooperation. She writes a popular blog on becoming a biology professor with the goal of diversifying the professoriate. […]
The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum can farm symbiotic bacteria for food by carrying them from generation to generation. New research shows that these bacteria can also protect the amoeba from environmental toxins.
Genes inherited from mothers (matrigenes) and fathers (patrigenes) usually work harmoniously in the offspring. However, kin selection theory predicts these genes may be in conflict in interactions among relatives in which they are unequally represented (half-siblings). In honey bees, patrigenes are predicted to favor daughters that lay eggs themselves rather than remaining sterile and rearing their half-sisters’ offspring. An experimental test bears out this prediction.