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 (May 2019)




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


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


- 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 Sciences, USA, 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 Sciences, USA, 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 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


- 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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Phone: +41(0)21 692 41 73
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TEDx conference by Laurent Keller on ants

TEDx conference by Laurent Keller on ants

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Tel. +41 21 692 41 60
Fax +41 21 692 41 65