Dr Gijsbert Werner

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the evolution and maintenance of cooperation.

Everywhere we look in nature, we see successful cooperation. Yet, cheaters and defection undermine cooperative interactions and can cause them to break down.

So why does cooperation evolve? How is it stabilised? When is it lost? These are some of the questions I am interested in.

I study both mutualisms – cooperative interactions between species – and cooperation within species. I am also interested in social evolution more generally, including in humans. You can find more information about my research interests here.


Bell-Roberts, L., Douglas, A.E.D., Werner, G. D. A. 2019. Match and mismatch between dietary switches and microbial partners in plant sap-feeding insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0065

Whiteside MD, Werner GDA, Caldas VEA, van’t Padje A, Dupin SE, Elbers B et al. 2019. Mycorrhizal Fungi Respond to Resource Inequality by Moving Phosphorus from Rich to Poor Patches across Networks. Current Biology 29: 2043-2050.e8 

Steidinger, B.S., Crowther, T.W., Liang, J., Van Nuland, M.E., Werner, G. D. A. et al. 2019. Climatic controls of decomposition drive the global biogeography of forest tree symbioses. Nature. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1128-0

Werner, G. D. A., J. H. C. Cornelissen, W. K. Cornwell, N. A. Soudzilovskaia, J. Kattge, S. A. West, and E. T. Kiers. 2018. Symbiont switching and alternative resource acquisition strategies drive mutualism breakdown. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1721629115 PDF link Article link

Paterno, G.B., Penone, C, Werner, G.D.A. (2018) sensiPhy: An r‐package for sensitivity analysis in phylogenetic comparative methods. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12990 PDF link Article link

Werner, G.D.A., Zhou, Y., Pieterse, C.M.J., Kiers E.T. (2017) Tracking plant preference for higher-quality mycorrhizal symbionts under varying CO2-conditions over multiple generations. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.3635 PDF link Article link

Kiers, E.T., West, S.A., Wyatt, G.A.K., Gardner, A., Bücking, H., Werner, G.D.A. (2016). Misconceptions on the application of biological market theory to the mycorrhizal symbiosis. Nature Plants. 16063 PDF link   Article link

Knegt, B., Jansa, J., Franken, O., Engelmoer D.J.P., Werner, G.D.A., Bücking, H., Kiers, E.T. (2016). Host plant quality mediates competition between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Fungal Ecology. 20: 233-240 PDF link   Article link

Werner, G.D.A., Cornwell, W.K., Cornelissen, J.H.C., Kiers, E.T. (2015). Evolutionary signals of symbiotic persistence in the legume–rhizobia mutualism. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 112: 10262-10269 PDF link   Article link

Werner, G.D.A., Kiers, E.T. (2015). Order of arrival structures arbuscular mycorrhizal colonisation of plants. New Phytologist. 205: 1515-1524 PDF link   Article link

Werner, G.D.A., Kiers, E.T. (2015). Partner selection in the mycorrhizal mutualism. New Phytologist. 205: 1437–1442 PDF link   Article link

Werner, G.D.A. (2015). Q&A: Microbe cheerleader. [Interview]. Nature. 526: S58–S59 PDF link   Article link

Werner, G.D.A., Cornwell, W.K., Sprent, J.I., Kattge, J. Kiers, E.T. (2014). A single evolutionary innovation drives the deep evolution of symbiotic N2-fixation in angiosperms. Nature Communications. 5: 4087 PDF link   Article link

Werner, G.D.A., Strassmann , J.E., Ivens, A.B.F., Engelmoer, D.J.P., Verbruggen, E., Queller, D.C., Noë, R., Johnson, N.C., Hammerstein, P., Kiers, E.T. (2014). Evolution of Microbial Markets. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 111(4): 1237–1244 PDF link   Article link


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