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Laurent Keller - Professor

My personal research interests are reflected by the different activities of my group, described in the research section of this site.

Curriculum vitae

Professor of Evolutionary Ecology and Head of the Department of Ecology and Evolution. Details on.

CVKeller_2017  (292 Ko)

Selected Publications

La Vie des Fourmis. 2013. L. Keller & E. Gordon, Odile Jacob, Paris, 303 pp. (Paperback version of the book published in 2006).
The Lives of Ants. 2009. L. Keller & E. Gordon, Oxford University Press , 252 pp. (Paperback version published in 2010)

Edited Books
Levels of Selection in Evolution. 1999. L. Keller (ed.), Princeton University Press, Princeton, 318 pp.
Queen Number and Sociality in Insects. 1993. L. Keller (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 439 pp.

Research articles
Bertelsmeier, C., Ollier, S., Liebhold, A. & Keller L. In press. Recent human history governs global ant invasion dynamics. Nature Ecology & Evolution.
LeBoeuf, A. C., Waridel, P., Brent, C. S., Gonçalves, A. N., Menin, L., Ortiz, D., Riba-Grognuz, O., Koto, A., Soares Z. G., Privman, E., Miska, E. A., Benton, R. & Keller, L. 2016. Oral transfer of chemical cues, growth proteins and hormones in social insects. eLife, eLife 2016;5:e20375.
Libbrecht, R., Oxley, P. R., Keller, L. & Kronauer, D. J. C. 2016. Robust DNA methylation in the clonal raider ant brain. Current Biology, 26, 391-395.
Hollis, B, Houle, D., Zheng Y., Kawecki, T. J. & Keller, L. 2014. Evolution under monogamy feminizes gene expression. Nature Communications, 5, 3482, doi:10.1038/ncomms4482.
Libbrecht, R., Corona, M, Azevedo, D. O., Serrão, J. E. & Keller, L. 2013. Interplay between insulin signaling, juvenile hormone and vitellogenin regulates maternal effects on polyphenism in ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 110, 11050-11055.
Mersch, M. P., Crespi, S. & Keller, L. In press. Tracking individuals shows spatial fidelity is a key regulator of ant social organization. Science.
Wang, J., Wurm, Y., Nipitwanttanaphon, M., Riba-Grognuz, O., Huang, Y.-C., Shoemaker, D. & Keller, L. 2013. A Y-like social chromosome causes alternative colony organization in fire ants. Nature, 493, 664-668.
Wischmann, S., Floreano, L. & Keller, L. 2012. Historical contingency affects signaling strategies and competitive abilities in evolving populations of simulated robots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 109, 864-868.
Hunt, B. G., Ometto, L., Wurm, Y., Shoemaker, D. D., Yi, S. V., Keller, L., Goodisman, M. A. D. 2011. Relaxed selection is a precursor to the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 108, 15936-15941.
Waibel, M., Floreano, D. & Keller, L. 2011. A quantitative test of Hamilton's rule for the evolution of altruism. Plos Biology, 9(5): e1000615. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000615.
Wurm, Y., Wang, J., Riba-Grognuz, O., Corona, M., Sanne, N., Hunt, B., Ingram, K., Falquet, L., Nipitwattanaphon, M., Gotzek, D., Dijkstra, M., Oettler, J., Comtesse, F., Shih, C.-J., Wu, W-J., Yang, C-C., Thomas, J., Beaudoing, E., Pradervand, S., Flegel, V., Fabbretti, R., Cook, E., Stockinger, H., Long, L., Oakey, J., Harkins, T., Farmerie, W., Boomsma, J..J., Pamilo, P., Yi, S., Heinze, J., Goodisman, M., Farinelli, L., Harshman, K., Hulot, N., Cerutti, L., Xenarios, I., Shoemaker, D. D., Keller, L. 2011. The genome of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 108, 5679-5684.
Matsuura, K., Himuro, C., Yokoi, T., Yamamoto, Y., Vargo, E. L. & Keller L. 2010. Identification of a pheromone regulating caste differentiation in termites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 107, 12963-12968.
Wang, J., Chen, P.-J., Wang, G. J. & Keller, L. 2010. Chromosome size differences may affect meiosis and genome size. Science, 329, 293.
Floreano, D. & Keller, L. 2010. Evolution of adaptive behaviour in robots by means of natural selection. PloS Biology, 8, e1000292. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000292
Mitri, S., Floreano, D., & Keller, L. 2009. The evolution of information suppression in communicating robots with conflicting interests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 106, 15786–15790.
Schwander, T., Humbert, J.-Y., Brent, C. S., Helms Cahan, S., Chapuis, L., Renai, E. & Keller, L. 2008. Maternal effect on female caste determination in a social insect. Current Biology, 18, 265-269.
Schwander, T. & Keller, L. 2008. Genetic compatibility affects queen and worker caste determination. Science, 322, 552.
Floreano, D., Mitri, S., Magnenat, S. & Keller, L. 2007. Evolutionary conditions for the emergence of communication in robots. Current Biology, 17, 514-519.
Keller, L. 2007. Uncovering the biodiversity of genetic and reproductive systems. Time for a more open approach. American Society of Naturalists E. O. Wilson Award Winner Address. American Naturalist, 169, 1-9.
Fournier, D., Estoup, A., Orivel, J., Foucaud, J., Jourdan, H., Le Breton, J. & Keller, L. 2005. Clonal reproduction by males and females in the little fire ant. Nature, 435, 1230-1234
Hammond, R. L. & Keller, L. 2004. Conflict over male parentage in social insects. PLoS Biology, 2(9): e248, 1472-1482.
Langer, P., Hogendoorn, K. & Keller, L. 2004. Tug-of-war over reproduction in a social bee. Nature, 428, 844-847.
Pearcy, M., Aron, S., Doums, C. & Keller, L. 2004. Conditional use of sex and parthenogenesis for workers and queen production in ants. Science, 306, 1780-1783.
Parker, J. D, Parker, K. M., Sohal, B. H. Sohal, R. S. & Keller, L. 2004. Decreased expression of Cu-Zn Superoxide Dismutase 1 in ants with extreme lifespan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 101, 3486-3489.
Helms Cahan, S & Keller, L. 2003. Complex hybrid origin of genetic caste determination in harvester ants. Nature, 424, 306-309.
Molbo, D., Machado, C. A., Sevenster, J. G., Keller, L. & Herre, E. A. 2003. Cryptic species of fig pollinating wasps: implications for the fig-wasp mutualism, sex allocation, and precision of adaptation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 10, 5867-5872.
Giraud, T., Pedersen, J. S. & Keller, L. 2002. Evolution of supercolonies: The Argentine ants of Southern Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 99, 6075-6079.
Passera, L., Aron, S., Vargo, E. L. & Keller, L. 2001. Queen control of sex ratio in fire ants. Science, 293, 1308-1310.
Johnstone R. A. & Keller, L. 2000. How males can gain by harming their mates: sexual conflict, seminal toxins and the cost of mating. American Naturalist, 156, 368-377.
Krieger, M. J. B., Billeter, J.-B., Keller, L. 2000. Ant-like task allocation and recruitment in co-operative robots. Nature, 406, 992-995.
Keller, L. & Ross, K. G. 1998. Selfish genes: a green beard in the red fire ant. Nature, 394, 573-575.
Ross K. G. & Keller L. 1998. Genetic control of social organization in an ant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 95, 14232-14237.
Keller, L. & Genoud, M. 1997. Extraordinary lifespans in ants: a test of evolutionary theories of ageing. Nature, 389, 958-960.
Passera, L., Roncin, E., Kaufmann, B. & Keller, L. 1996. Increased soldier production in ant colonies exposed to intraspecific competition. Nature, 379, 630-631.
Ross, K. G., Vargo, E. L.& Keller, L. 1996. Social evolution in a new environment: The case of introduced fire ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 93, 3021-3025.
Sundström, L., Chapuisat, M. & Keller, L. 1996. Manipulation of sex ratios by ant workers: A test of kin selection theory. Science, 274, 993-995.
Keller, L. & Ross, K. G. 1993. Phenotypic basis of reproductive success in a social insect: genetic and social determinants. Science, 260, 1107-1110.

Review articles
Weitekamp, C. Libbrecht, R. & Keller, L. In press. Genetics and evolution of social behavior in insects. Annual Reviews Genetics.
Schwander, T., Libbrecht, R. & Keller, L. 2014. Supergenes and complex phenotypes. Current Biology, 24. R288-R294
LeBoeuf, A. C., Benton, R. & Keller, L. 2013. The molecular basis of social behavior: models, methods and advances. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 23, 3-10..
Mitri, S., Wischmann, S., Floreano, D. & Keller, L. 2013. Using robots to understand social behavior. Biological Reviews, 88, 31-39.
Duarte, A., Weissing, F. J., Pen, I. & Keller, L. 2011. An evolutionary perspective on self-organized division of labor in social insects. Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 92, 91-110.
Schwander, T., Lo, N., Beekman, M., Oldroyd, B. P. & Keller, L. 2010. Nature versus nurture in social insect caste determination. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25, 272-282.
Ducrest, A.-L., Keller, L. & Roulin, A. 2008. Pleiotropy in the melanocortin system, coloration and behavioural syndromes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 23, 502-510
Keller, L. & Surette, M. G. 2006. Communication in bacteria. An ecological and evolutionary perspective. Nature Rewiews Microbiology, 4, 249-258.
Lehmann, L. & Keller, L. 2006. The evolution of cooperation and altruism - a general framework and a classification of models. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 19, 1365-1376
Keller, L. & Chapuisat, M. 2001. Eusociality and cooperation. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences: http://www.els.net, London: Nature Publishing Group.
Reeve, H, K. & Keller, L. 2001. Tests of reproductive-skew models in social insects. Annual Review of Entomology, 46, 347-385.
Heinze, J. & Keller, L. 2000. Alternative reproductive strategies: a queen perspective in ants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 15, 508-512.
Keller, L. & Chapuisat, M. 1999. Cooperation among selfish individuals in insect colonies. BioScience, 49, 899-909.
Keller, L. 1997. Indiscriminate altruism: Unduly nice parents and siblings. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 12, 99-103.
Keller, L. 1995. Social life: the paradox of multiple-queen colonies. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 10, 355-360.
Ross, K. G. & Keller, L. 1995. Evolution of social organization: insights from fire ants and other highly eusocial insects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 26, 631-656.
Keller, L. & Reeve, H. K. 1994. Partitioning of reproduction in animal societies. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 9, 98-102.

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Phd thesis

Publications (12)


To apply for a PhD position or a Postdoc or in the lab, the standard procedure is as follows.

1. Send an e-mail to describe your interests and motivation to join our group

2. For a PhD position: send your CV, grades and recommendation letters. For a Postdoc send: send your CV, list of publications and recommendation letters

3. Come and spend a couple of days with us in Lausanne (travel and hotel will be reimbursed) to give a seminar and exchange ideas with lab members

Funding: Members of our groups are funded from different sources, including fellowships from our University, Swiss NSF, Marie Curie, EU network of excellent, EMBO, and various specific grants



Office room: 3121
Phone: +41(0)21 692 41 73
Fax: +41(0)21 692 41 65

TEDx conference by Laurent Keller on ants

TEDx conference by Laurent Keller on ants

Biophore - CH-1015 Lausanne  - Switzerland  -  Tel. +41 21 692 41 60  -  Fax +41 21 692 41 65
Swiss University