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

CVKeller  (301 Ko)

Selected Publications (August 2022)


The Genetics of Social Organization: A Journey of Discovery with Fire Ants. K. G. Ross, L. Keller and B. G. Hunt.Commissioned by Princeton University Press, Princeton.

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 (selected from 328 articles in peer Reviewed Journals)

Helleu, Q., Ross, K.G.  & Keller, L. In press Radiation and hybridization underpin the spread of the fire ant social supergene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Liberti, J., Kay, T., Quinn, A., Kesner, L., Frank, E., Cabirol, A., Richardson, T. O., Engel, P. & Keller, L. In press. The gut microbiota affects the social network of honeybees. Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Romiguier, J., Borowiec, M. L., Weyna, A., Helleu, Q., Loire, E., La Mendola, C., Rabeling, C., Fisher, B. L., Ward, P. S. & Keller, L. In press. Ant phylogenomics reveals a natural selection hotspot preceding the origin of advanced eusociality. Current Biology.

Richardson, T. O., Kay, T., Braunschweig, R., Journeau, O. A., Rüegg, M., McGregor, S., De Los Rios, P. & Keller, L. 2021. Ant behavioural maturation is mediated by a stochastic transition between two fundamental states. Current Biology, 31, 2253-2260.

Kay, T., Keller, L. & Lehmann, L. 2020. The evolution of altruism and the serial rediscovery of the role of relatedness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 117, 28894–28898,

Yan, Z., Martin, S. H., Gotzek D., Arsenault, S. V., Duchen, P., Helleu, Q., Riba-Grognuz, O, Hunt, B. G., Salamin, N., Shoemaker, D., Ross, K. G. & Keller, L. 2020. Evolution of a supergene that regulates a trans-species social polymorphism. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4, 240-249.

Hollis, B., Koppick, M., Wensing, K. U., Ruhmann, H., Genzoni, E., Erkosar, B., Kawecki T. J., Fricke, C. & Keller L. 2019. Sexual conflict drives male manipulation of female post-mating responses in Drosophila melanogaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 116, 8437-8444.

Koto, A., Motoyma, N., Tahara, H., McGregor, S., Tamura, T., Moiyama, M., Okabe, T., Miura, M. & Keller, L. 2019. The oxytocin/vasopressin-like peptide inotocin regulates cuticular hydrocarbon synthesis and water balancing in ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 116, 5597-5606.

Stroeymeyt, N., Grasse, A., Crespi, A., Mersch, D., Cremer, S. & Keller, L. 2018. Social network plasticity decreases disease transmission in a eusocial insect. Science, 362, 941-945.

Bertelsmeier, C., Ollier, S., Liebhold, A., Brockerhoff, E. G., Ward, D. & Keller, L. 2018. Recurrent bridgehead effects accelerate global alien ant spread. Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesUSA, 115, 5486–5491.

Mullon, C., Keller, L. & Lehmann, L 2018. Co-evolution of dispersal with social behaviour favours social polymorphism. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2 132-140.

Bertelsmeier, C., Ollier, S., Liebhold, A. & Keller L. 2017. Recent human history governs global ant invasion dynamics.Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 0184, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0184.

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 SciencesUSA, 110, 11050-11055.

Mersch, M. P., Crespi, S. & Keller, L. 2013. Tracking individuals shows spatial fidelity is a key regulator of ant social organization. Science, 340, 1090-1093.

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 SciencesUSA, 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 SciencesUSA, 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 SciencesUSA, 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 SciencesUSA, 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 SciencesUSA, 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

Lucas, E. R. & Keller, L. 2020. The co-evolution of longevity and social life. Functional Ecology, 34, 76-87.

Kay, T., Lehmann, L. & Keller, L. 2019. Kin selection and altruism. Current Biology, 29, R438–R442.

Rubinstein, D. R., Agren, J. A., Carbone, L., Hoekstra, H. E., Elde, N. C., Kapheim, K. M., Keller, L., Moreau, C. S., Toth, A. L., Yeaman, S. & Hofmann, H. A. 2019. Coevolution of genome architecture and social behavior. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 34, 844-855

Bertelsmeier, C. & Keller, L. 2018. Bridgehead effects and role of adaptive evolution in invasive populations. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 33, 527-534.

Weitekamp, C. Libbrecht, R. & Keller, L. 2017. Genetics and evolution of social behavior in insects. Annual Reviews Genetics, 51, 219-239.

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 Reviews 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:, 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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TEDx conference by Laurent Keller on ants

TEDx conference by Laurent Keller on ants