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W. Ford Doolittle

PhD (Stanford), FRSC

Professor Emeritus

Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences
Department member since 1971

Tupper 8-A2


Genomics, Molecular Phylogeny, Gene Transfer

Research Areas

I examine prevailing concepts in genomics, molecular biology and microbial ecology, most often as these reflect understandings of evolution by natural selection. Particular concerns are multilevel selection theory, selection for differential persistence (instead of differential reproduction), holobiosis and selection on cycles and interactions, microbiology and the Modern Synthesis, origin of eukaryotes and cellular complexity, lateral gene transfer and the Tree of Life, and the meaning of “function”.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Andrew Inkpen PhD UBC

Lab Personnel

Tyler D. P. Brunet Research Assistant
Wanda Danilchuk Research Assistant


  1. Inkpen SA, Doolittle WF., (2017) Molecular phylogenetics and the perennial problem of homology. J. Molec. Evol. 83:184-192 [PubMed]
  2. Doolittle W.F., (2017) Making the most of clade selection. Philosophy of Science: In Press : [Article]
  3. Doolittle W.F., (2017) Darwinizing Gaia. J. Theor. Biol.: In Press :
  4. Doolittle W.F. and Brunet, T.D.P., (2016) What is the Tree of Life? PLoS Genetics 12(4):e1005912 [PubMed]
  5. Doolittle W.F. and Booth, A., (2016) It's the song, not the singer: an exploration of holobiosis and evolutionary theory. Biology and Philosophy: In Press : [Article]
  6. Booth A., Mariscal C. and Doolittle W.F., (2016) The Modern Synthesis in the light of microbial genomics. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 70:279-297 [PubMed]
  7. Mariscal, C. and Doolittle, W.F. , (2015) Eukaryotes first: how could that be? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B. 370(1678):20140322 [PubMed]
  8. Booth, A. and Doolittle, W.F., (2015) Eukaryogenesis, how special really? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112(33):10278-85 [PubMed]
  9. Brunet, T.D. and Doolittle, W.F. , (2015) Multilevel selection theory and the evolutionary functions of transposable elements. Genome Biol. Evol. 7(8):2445-2457 [PubMed] [Article]
  10. WF Doolittle, TDP Brunet, S Linquist, TR Gregory, (2014) Distinguishing between “function” and “effect” in genome biology Genome Biology and Evolution 6 (5):1234-1237 [Article]
  11. Doolittle, W.F., (2014) Natural selection through survival alone, and the possibility of Gaia. Biology and Philosophy 29:415-423 [Article]
  12. Doolittle, W.F., (2013) Is junk DNA bunk? A critique of ENCODE. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110(14):5294-5300 [PubMed]