Michael J. Wade , Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Biology

Indiana University, Bloomington

Born in 1949 in Evanston, Ill., USA
Studied Biology and Mathematics at Boston College, and Theoretical Biology at the University of Chicago


Syngenomics: Evolution − from Conflict to Cooperation to Mutualism


Nature, Nurture, and the Nurturers

In my research as a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, I want to extend my theoretical investigations of evolution in metapopulations (recently summarized in Wade 2016, Adaptation in Metapopulations, University of Chicago Press) to include interactions between genomes (e.g., nuclear and organelle) and between species in meta-communities. Most organisms live in metapopulations, interacting locally with their own and other species in ways that affect individual fitness and in genetic contexts that vary from one deme to another. As a result, natural selection in metapopulations always differs from that in large, randomly mating populations, whether or not there is an added component of higher-level selection acting among demes. This difference between adaptive evolution in metapopulations and that in non-subdivided populations has been overlooked by evolutionary genetic theory with its tradition of partitioning variation into dichotomous genetic and environmental factors, nature and nurture, respectively. This traditional approach founders whenever some of the factors responsible for variation in phenotype or fitness are both genetic and environmental at the same time. It is these genetic factors, called "indirect genetic effects" or IGEs, that create causal pathways between the genes in one individual and the phenotypes expressed by others, even if unrelated. These pathways permit the co-evolution of phenotype and context that is unique to metapopulations. Because an IGE is an environmental source of variation that can itself evolve in response to selection, IGEs are fundamental to the co-evolution of phenotype and context. Their existence fundamentally changes the paradigm of "Nature versus Nurture" to a new paradigm, which I refer to as "Nature, Nurture, and the Nurturers". I propose to write a scholarly monograph with this working title as my project when a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg.

Recommended Reading

Wade, M. J. and D. Drown (2016). "Nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis: a gene's eye view of genomic conflict." Ecology and Evolution 6: 6460-6472.
Brandvain, Y., M. S. Barker, and M. J. Wade (2007). "Gene co-inheritance and gene transfer." Science 315: 1685.
Wade, M. J. (2007). "The coevolutionary genetics of ecological communities." Nature Reviews Genetics 8: 185-195.

Publications from the Fellows' Library

Wade, Michael J. ( 2016)
The evolution of sperm competition genes : the effect of mating system on levels of genetic variation within and between species

Wade, Michael J. ( 2016)
Theoretical predictions for sociogenomic data: the effects of kin selection and sex-limited expression on the evolution of social insect genomes

Wade, Michael J. ( 2010)
Multilevel and kin selection in a connected world

Wade, Michael J. ( 2009)
Genes with social effects are expected to harbor more sequence variation within and between species

Wade, Michael J. ( 2004)
The evolutionary origin and elaboration of sociality in the aculeate Hymenoptera : maternal effects, sib-social effects, and heterochrony

Wade, Michael J. ( 1998)
Evolutionary consequences of indirect genetic effects