Kevin Foster

Professor of Evolutionary Biology

Fellow of Magdalen College


Research Interests

Organisms regularly meet members of their own and other species. Whenever these interactions affect survival and reproduction - the currencies of Darwin's natural selection - they are "social" in evolutionary terms. This is social evolution and we study social evolution in a diverse range of systems, including insects, humans, and even sperm. Some of our work is theoretical and some is experimental. We also write reviews of key concepts and debates in social evolution. And in recent years, we have come to particularly focus on species whose sociality is often overlooked, the microbes.






Selected Publications

  • Foster KR. 2011 The sociobiology of molecular systems. Nature Reviews Genetics, 12: 193-203.
  • Xavier J, Kim W, Foster KR 2011 A molecular mechanism that stabilizes cooperative secretions in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Molecular Microbiology 79, 166-179
  • Korb J, Foster KR 2010 Ecological competition favours cooperation in termite societies. Ecology Letters, 13: 754-760.
  • Nadell CD, Foster KR, Xavier J. 2010 Emergence of spatial structure in cell groups and the evolution of cooperation. PLoS Computational Biology, 6: e1000716.
  • Foster KR 2009 A defense of sociobiology. Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology, Cold Spring Harbor Press, Volume LXXIV, 403-418.
  • Korb J, Weil T, Hoffmann K, Foster KR, Rehli M 2009. A gene required for reproductive suppression in termites. Science, 324: 758.
  • Nadell CD, Xavier J, & Foster, KR 2009 The sociobiology of biofilms. FEMS microbiology reviews, 33: 206-224.
  • Smukalla S, Caldara M, Pochet N, Beauvais A, Guadagnini S, Yan C, Vinces MD, Jansen A, Christine Prevost M, Latge J, Fink GR, Foster KR, Verstrepen KJ 2008. FLO1 is a variable green beard gene that drives biofilm-like cooperation in budding yeast. Cell 135: 727-737.
  • Pizzari, T, Foster KR 2008 Sperm sociality: cooperation, altruism, and spite. Plos Biology, 6: e130.
  • Lehmann L, Feldman MW, Foster KR 2008 Cultural transmission can inhibit the evolution of altruistic helping. American Naturalist, 172: 12-24.
  • Nadell CD, Xavier J, Levin SA, & Foster, KR 2008 The evolution of quorum sensing in bacterial biofilms. PLoS Biology, 6: e14