Professor Ashleigh Griffin

Research Interests

I am interested in the evolution of cooperative behaviour because it poses a special problem for evolutionary theory - how can selection favour a behaviour that reduces reproductive success? The question is important, not just so we can gain an insight into striking examples such as colonies of social insects or meerkat groups, but because it is fundamental to understanding life as we know it: the evolution of the genome, the eukaryotic cell and multicellular organisms.

In previous years, my main focus has been the use of the bacterial system Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as an experimental system for testing predictions of social evolution theory.

My current projects fall into two main categories:

  1. The application of social evolution theory to understand clinical problems of bacterial infection.
  2. The use of meta-analysis to test predictions of social evolution theory in patterns across species, primarily cooperatively breeding birds.


I am also the 2008 UNESCO/L’Oreal Fellow For Women In Science.





Selected Publications

Rumbaugh, KP, SP Diggle, CM Watters, A Ross-Gillespie, AS Griffin, SA West (2009) Quorum sensing and the social evolution of bacterial virulence. Current Biology 19. 341-345.

West, SA, AS Griffin, A Gardner (2007) Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20, 415-432

Griffin, AS, BC Sheldon, SA West (2005) Cooperative breeders adjust offspring sex ratios to produce helpful helpers. American Naturalist 166, 628-632.

Griffin, AS, SA West, A Buckling (2004) Cooperation and competition in pathogenic bacteria. Nature 430, 1024-1027.

Griffin, AS, SA West (2003) Kin discrimination and the benefit of helping in cooperatively breeding vertebrates. Science 302, 634-636

List of site pages