Denison, R. Ford


Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota

Graduate Program Ecology, Evolution & Behavior

Graduate Program Plant Biology

Ph.D., Cornell University, 1983

UMN Webpage

Google Scholar Citations

This Week In Evolution blog

Research Interests

Evolution of legume-rhizobium mutualism; agricultural implications of past and ongoing natural selection; life-history tradeoffs as a possible explanation for stress-induced longevity

Research in my lab is often inspired by W.D. Hamilton's theoretical work on evolution of cooperation, aging, etc., but with a view to eventual practical applications. We frequently use microcosms and domesticated species or noncharismatic microfauna, but include wild species and field research when that will expand the applicability of our results.

Selected Publications

Denison, R.F. 2012.  Darwinian agriculture: How Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture.  Princeton University Press; in press.

Ratcliff, W.C., R.F. Denison, M. Borrello, M. Travisano. 2012. Experimental evolution of multicellularity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1115323109) 

Oono, R., C.G. Anderson, R.F. Denison. 2011. Failure to fix nitrogen (N2) by nonreproductive symbiotic rhizobia triggers host sanctions that reduce fitness of their reproductive clonemates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278:2698-2703.

Ratcliff, W.C., R.F. Denison. 2011. Alternative actions for antibiotics. Science 332:547-548.

Denison, R.F., E.T. Kiers. 2011. Life histories of symbiotic rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi. Current Biology 21:R775-R785.

Oono, R., R.F. Denison. 2010. Comparing symbiotic efficiency between swollen versus nonswollen rhizobial bacteroids.  Plant Physiology 154:1541-1548.

Ratcliff, W.C., R.F. Denison. 2010. Individual-level bet hedging in the bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti. Current Biology 20:1740-1744.

Oono, R., I. Schmitt, J.I. Sprent, R.F. Denison. 2010. Multiple evolutionary origins of legume traits leading to extreme rhizobial differentiation.  New Phytol. 187:508-520.

Ratcliff, W.C., P. Hawthorne, M. Travisano, R.F. Denison. 2009. When stress predicts a shrinking gene pool, trading early reproduction for longevity can increase fitness, even with lower fecundity. PLoS One 4:e6055.

Oono, R., R.F. Denison, E.T. Kiers. 2009. Tansley review: Controlling the reproductive fate of rhizobia: How universal are legume sanctions?  New Phytologist 183:967-979.

Ratcliff, W.C., R.F. Denison. 2009. Rhizobitoxine producers gain more poly-3-hydroxybutyrate in symbiosis than do competing rhizobia, but reduce plant growth.  ISME Journal 3:870-872.

Kiers, E.T., and R.F. Denison. 2008. Host sanctions, cooperation, and the stability of plant-rhizosphere mutualisms.  Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 39:193-213.

Kiers, E.T., M. Hutton, R.F. Denison. 2007. Human selection and the relaxation of legume defences against ineffective rhizobia.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274: 3119-3126.

Kiers, E.T., R.A. Rousseau, S.A. West, and R.F. Denison. 2003. Host sanctions and the legume-rhizobium mutualism.  Nature 425:78-81. 

Kinraide, T.B., and R.F. Denison.  2003. Strong inference, the way of science.  American Biology Teacher 65:419-424.

Denison, R.F., E.T. Kiers, and S.A. West. 2003. Darwinian agriculture: when can humans find solutions beyond  the reach of natural selection? Quarterly Review of Biology 78:145-168. 

Denison, R.F. 2000. Legume sanctions and the evolution of symbiotic cooperation by rhizobia. American Naturalist 156:567-576.

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