Cooperative alliances 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 make up my dominant research interests. Molecular techniques for phylogeny reconstruction, for determining genetic relatedness among cooperators, and for assessing who reproduces within a group have allowed us to make a great deal of progress towards understanding alliances. I have found ample material for study in the several hundred species of social wasps. However, some questions have proven more easily pursued in other organisms, so I also work with stingless bees and with the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum and related species. The social amoeba has the advantage of a very simple social system with only two castes whose division is well understood at the molecular level.

Joan Strassmann & David Queller

Joan E. Strassmann


David C. Queller


Department of  Biology

Campus Box 1187

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis MO 63130-4899