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In the Light of Evolution V: Cooperation

Organized by Joan E. Strassmann, David C. Queller, John C. Avise, and Francisco J. Ayala

January 7-8, 2011
Irvine, California

Meeting Overview:
Cooperation is one of the great challenges to evolutionary theory.  If individuals compete, and those winning the conflict leave more copies of their genes, what place is there for cooperation? A large one, it turns out. Cooperation is important in the evolution of groups, and is responsible for the great ecological success of social insects. Understanding how conflict is controlled so that cooperation can occur may explain the organization of genes on chromosomes, eukaryotic cells, multicellularity, and superorganisms like social insect colonies.  Advances in many areas of biology have expanded the reach of cooperation studies. This colloquium focused on empirical work in these new areas rather than tread old ground. The colloquium began with a session on the foundations of cooperation based on selfish-gene thinking, moving on to see how the promise of the early work has been fulfilled by the study of real genes for social behavior. The third session addressed the role of cooperation in disease, as pathogens, selfish genetic elements, and cancers exploit their hosts, and the final session explored how this evolutionary perspective sheds light on the human condition.

 Video Available

Session I. Foundations of Cooperation
John C. Avise, University of California, Irvine, Chair

 Insect Societies: pinnacles of cooperation
Peter Nonacs, University of California, Los Angeles

 Families in vertebrates
Dustin R. Rubenstein, Columbia University

The major evolutionary transitions In bacterial symbiosis
Joel L. Sachs, University of California, Riverside

Kin, kith, and kind: the varieties of social experience
David C. Queller, Rice University

Session II. Genetic Basis of Cooperation and Conflict
David Queller, Chair

Altruism and cheating in a social microbe, Dicytostelium discoideum
Joan E. Strassmann, Rice University

A prokaryotic model system
Greg Velicer, Indiana University

 The evolution of restraint in simple communities
Ben Kerr, University of Washington

 Selfish genetic elements
Jack H. Werren, University of Rochester

Banquet Lecture
Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine, Introduction

 Evolution of insect society: eat, drink and be scary
Gene E. Robinson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session III. Hamiltonian Medicine
Joan E. Strassmann, Chair

 Genomic imprinting, helpers at the nest, and age at menarche
David Haig, Harvard University

Pathology from evolutionary conflict
Steven A. Frank, University of California, Irvine

The sociobiology of drug resistance and pathogen virulence
Andrew Read, Pennsylvania State University

Microbial sociality: implications for disease
Kevin Foster, Harvard University

Session IV. Are Humans Different?
Francisco J. Ayala, Chair

 Cooperation and conflict in traditional cultures
Beverly I. Strassmann, University of Michigan

The cultural niche
Robert Boyd, University of California, Los Angeles

 Social Bonds to Social Preferences; the foundations for human moral sentiments
Joan Silk, University of California, Los Angeles

 What does primate cooperation tell us?
Dorothy Cheney, University of Pennsylvania

Concluding Remarks
John C. Avise, University of California, Irvine


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