Natasha Mehdiabadi, Research Associate
(Smithsonian Institution & University of Maryland at College Park)
- Evolution of cooperation in social insects and microbes
- Social insect evolution, ecology, and behavior
- Phylogenetics and molecular evolution of ants and microbes
I study the evolution and ecology of social interactions. In particular, my work focuses on (i) the evolution of cooperation and conflict in group-living organisms and (ii) symbiosis. Cooperation is central to many of the major transitions in evolution, from the emergence of chromosomes via the assembly of independent genes to the origin of multicellular organisms from single cells. Understanding cooperation is therefore fundamental to understanding the history of life. With a foundation in manipulative field and laboratory experiments, I have recently gained extensive experience in molecular techniques that will help me understand the genetic mechanisms underlying social processes. Empirical tests of social evolution theory have traditionally treated the genes underlying social traits as a black box. However, I now use advances in molecular biology, phylogenetics, and genomics to investigate the functional significance of genes behind social traits. My research program on the evolution of cooperation spans multiple levels of analysis (field work to molecular work), a range of symbiotic interactions (from parasitism to mutualism), and a diversity of systems (social insects and microbes).
Mehdiabadi, N.J., Mueller, U.G., Brady, S.G., Himler, A.G., Schultz, T.R. 2012. Symbiont fidelity and the origin of species in fungus-growing ants. Nature Communications, 3 doi:10.1038/ncomms1844
Mehdiabadi, N. J. 2010. Invertebrate social behavior: Queen-worker conflict. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. Breed, M. D. and Moore, J., Eds. Academic Press, Oxford. (Invited Book Chapter)
Mehdiabadi, N. J., Kronforst, M. K., Queller, D. C., and Strassmann, J. E. 2010. Phylogeography and sexual macrocyst formation in the social amoeba Dictyostelium giganteum. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10: 17.
Mehdiabadi, N.J., M.R. Kronforst, D.C. Queller and J.E. Strassmann. 2009. Phylogeny, reproductive isolation and kin recognition in the social amoeba Dictyostelium purpureum. Evolution 63(2): 542-548.
Henne, W., Henne, R., McMahon, K. W., Harrell Yee, S. M., Brasel, T., Mehdiabadi, N. J. 2008. Alumni perspectives on undergraduate research. In: R. Taraban and R. L. Blanton (Eds.), Creating effective undergraduate research programs in science: The transformation from student to scientist. New York: Teachers College Press.
Jack, C.N., J.G. Ridgeway, N.J. Mehdiabadi, E.I. Jones, T.A. Edwards, D.C. Queller and J.E. Strassmann. 2008. Segregate or cooperate: a study of the interaction between two species of Dictyostelium. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8: 293.
Gilbert, O.M., K.R. Foster, N. J. Mehdiabadi, J.E. Strassmann, and D.C. Queller. 2007. High relatedness maintains multicellular cooperation in a social amoeba by controlling cheater mutants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 8913-8917.
Mehdiabadi, N.J., C. N. Jack, T. Talley Farnham, T.G. Platt, S. E. Kalla, G. Shaulsky, D.C. Queller, and J.E. Strassmann. 2006. Kin preference in a social microbe. Nature 442: 881-882.
Mehdiabadi, N.J., B. Hughes, and
U.G. Mueller. 2006. Cooperation, conflict, and coevolution in the attine
ant-fungus symbiosis. Behavioral Ecology 17: 291-296.
Mehdiabadi, N.J., E.K. Kawazoe, and L.E. Gilbert. 2004. Parasitoids and competitors influence colony-level responses in the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Naturwissenschaften 91: 539-543.
Mehdiabadi, N.J., E.K. Kawazoe,
and L.E. Gilbert. 2004. Phorid fly parasitoids of invasive fire ants
indirectly improve the competitive ability of a native ant. Ecological
Entomology 29: 621-627.
Mehdiabadi, N.J., H.K. Reeve, and U.G. Mueller. 2003. Queens versus workers: Sex-ratio conflict in eusocial Hymenoptera. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 88-93.
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