User:J. David Van Dyken

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Contact Info

  • 2011-Present, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow
    • "The Intersection of Biology With Math/Physics"
    • Advisors:
      • 1 year at UBC with Michael Whitlock
      • 2 years at Harvard with Michael Desai
  • 2011 PhD, Biology, Indiana University
    • Major: Ecology, Evolution & Behavior
    • Minor: Genetics
    • Advisors: Mike Wade and Greg Velicer

Research interests

I am interested in how natural selection acts to promote cohesion or conflict between interacting genetic units, thereby facilitating or impeding the emergence of organizational complexity. Interactions can occur at numerous levels of biological organization, including between genes in a single genome (epistasis), between genes in different individuals (sociality) or between genes in different species (coevolution). Cohesion leads to co-adapted gene complexes, societies and mutualisms, respectively, while conflict leads to selfish genetic elements, cheating and parasitism. My thesis work has focused on how ecological factors (competition, resource abundance, environmental heterogeneity) and genetic factors (mutation, population structure, co-transmission) affect the rate and direction of selection on genetic interactions. In all cases, I aim to determine the signature that these forces leave on gene sequence variation, making the theory amenable to testing using the tools of molecular population genetics. My approach combines theory, simulations, bioinformatics and laboratory experiments. My empirical work has focused on microbes, particularly the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus, while my theoretical work covers a broad (and constantly expanding) range of topics.


  1. Van Dyken, J.D., and M. J. Wade. In press. Origins of altruism diversity II: Runaway altruism co-evolution via reciprocal niche-construction. Evolution.
  2. Van Dyken, J.D., and M. J. Wade. In press. Origins of altruism diversity I: The diversity of altruistic strategies and their evolutionary responses to local competition. Evolution.
  3. M.C. Whitlock and Van Dyken, J.D.. In press. Altruism in viscous populations revisited: Competition and altruism do not exactly cancel even in the island model. Evolutionary Ecology Research.
  4. Van Dyken, J.D., and M. J. Wade. In press. Detecting the molecular signature of social conflict: theory and a test with bacterial quorum sensing genes. The American Naturalist.
    1. Highlighted in New Scientist
  5. Van Dyken, J.D., T. A. Linksvayer, M. J. Wade. 2011. Kin selection-mutation balance: A model for the origin, maintenance, and consequences of social cheating. The American Naturalist 177: 288-300. pdf
  6. smith, j., Van Dyken, J.D. , Zee P. 2010 A generalization of Hamilton's rule for the evolution of microbial cooperation. Science 328: 1700-1703. pdf
  7. Van Dyken, J.D. 2010 The components of kin competition. Evolution 64: 2840-2854. pdf
  8. Van Dyken, J.D. and M. J. Wade. 2010. The genetic signature of conditional expression. Genetics 184:557-570. pdf
    1. Highlighted in Nature Reviews Genetics
    2. Genetics Issue Highlights
  9. Snell-Rood, E. C., Van Dyken, J.D., T. Cruickshank, M. J. Wade, and A. P. Moczek. 2010. Toward a population genetic framework of developmental evolution: the costs, limits and consequences of phenotypic plasticity. BioEssays 32:71-81. pdf
    1. Highlighted by Faculty of 1000
  10. Wade, M. J., D. S. Wilson, C. Goodnight, D. Taylor, Y. Bar-Yam, M. A. de Aguiar, B. Stacey, J. Werfel, G. A. Hoelzer, E. D. Brodie, 3rd, P. Fields, F. Breden, T. A. Linksvayer, J. A. Fletcher, P. J. Richerson, J. D. Bever, Van Dyken, J.D., and P. Zee. 2010. Multilevel and kin selection in a connected world. Nature 463:E8-9; discussion E9-10.
  11. Demuth, J. P., D. W. Drury, M. L. Peters, Van Dyken, J.D., N. K. Priest, M. J. Wade. 2007. Genome-wide survey of Tribolium castaneum microsatellites and description of 509 polymorphic markers. Mol. Ecol. Notes 7: 1189-1195.


Me in the Peruvian Amazon

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