I study how sex, social interactions, and ecology shape viral evolution. Viruses frequently infect the same cell, leading to conflicts of interest over cell resources. Viruses can evolve to exploit other co-infecting viruses and increase their reproduction at the expense other viruses. I work with viruses isolated from the environment, using a variety of lab techniques to understand the evolution of sexual strategies and their relationship with ecology.
I currently study genetic exchange among RNA viruses (Cystoviruses) that infect Pseudomonas bacteria. The genome of these phages is divided into three segments. Sex occurs when phages swap their segments while reproducing within a cell (reassortment). Reassortment occurs in other viruses, such as influenza, and is an important factor in determining the capacity to infect new hosts, evade immune responses or vaccines, and adapt to new environments. Some of my research questions using the Pseudomonas-Cystovirus system are: How frequent is genetic exchange in nature? What ecological conditions encourage genetic exchange? What are the long-term evolutionary consequences of different sexual strategies?
My entry into microbial evolution started under the mentorship of Dr. Lin Chao (UCSD) and Dr. Paul E. Turner (Yale), following my doctoral research on cooperatively breeding tamarin monkeys in Panama. I conducted postdoctoral research on the spatial dynamics of bacteria and viruses on leaf surfaces with Dr. Steven E. Lindow and Dr. Ellen Simms at UC Berkeley. I am currently studying social interactions, evolution, and ecology of phage as a Faculty Fellow at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology .
My doctoral research focused on the behavior, ecology, and genetics of tamarin monkeys (Saguinus geoffroyi) in the forests of Panamá. I was especially interested in the evolution of cooperative male parental care. Male parental care is rare among mammals, even when they are monogamous. In tamarin groups, two or more males mate with a single female and cooperate to rear her twin young. Why, from an evolutionary perspective would tamarins do this? I used multi-year demographic and genetic data to show that male pairs are stable across years, are related, and share paternity. Recent anthropological work suggests that early humans may have been cooperative breeders and tamarins (among the only cooperatively breeding primates) may contribute to understanding the origins of human cooperation.
- Díaz-Muñoz SL (in prep) "Synergy and antagonism in viral reproduction among co-infecting RNA bacteriophages" To be presented at ASM 2015 meeting.
- Díaz-Muñoz SL, Edith Yuan, Christina Burch, Ellen Simms, Paul Turner, and Lin Chao (in prep) "Attachment rate manipulation in response to social environment in an RNA virus" Presented at ASM 2014 meeting.
- Díaz-Muñoz SL (in press) “Complex cooperative breeders: Using infant care costs to explain variability in callitrichine social and reproductive behavior” American Journal of Primatology PDF | Data
- Díaz-Muñoz SL and Bales KL (in press) “"Monogamy" in Primates: Variability, Trends and Synthesis” American Journal of Primatology
- Díaz-Muñoz SL and Koskella B (2014) “Bacteria-Phage interactions in natural environments” Advances in Applied Microbiology 89: 135-183. PDF
- Díaz-Muñoz SL, DuVal EH, Krakauer AH, Lacey EA (2014) “Cooperating to compete: Altruism, sexual selection, and male coalitions” Animal Behaviour 88: 67-78. PDF | Data
- Díaz-Muñoz SL and Ribeiro AM (2014) “No sex-biased dispersal in a primate with an uncommon social system - cooperative polyandry” PeerJ 2:e640. PDF | Data
- Díaz-Muñoz SL, Tenaillon O, Turner PE, Chao L (2013) “Experimental reassortment of environmental isolates confirms geographic differences in reassortment in Cystoviruses” BMC Evolutionary Biology 13: 206. PDF | Data
- Guerrero-Medina G, Feliú-Mójer M, González-Espada W, Díaz-Muñoz G, López M, Díaz-Muñoz SL, Fortis- Santiago Y, Pérez-Otero J, Craig D, Colón-Ramos DA (2013) “Supporting diversity in science through social networking” PLoS Biology 11 (12 ): e1001740. PDF
- Díaz-Muñoz SL (2012) “Role of recent and old riverine barriers in fine scale population genetic structure of Geoffroy's Tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi) in the Panama Canal Watershed” Ecology and Evolution 2: 298-309. PDF | Data
- Díaz-Muñoz SL (2011) “Paternity and relatedness in
a polyandrous nonhuman primate: testing adaptive hypotheses of male reproductive
cooperation” Animal Behaviour 82: 563-571. PDF
Press: Scientific American magazine's Not Bad Science column; New Scientist magazine's Zoologger column
- Calisi RM, Díaz-Muñoz SL, Wingfield JC and Bentley
GE (2011) "Social and breeding status are associated with the expression
of GnIH" Genes, Brain and Behavior 10: 557-564. PDF
Featured on the journal's volume cover
Grants and Awards
- UC Berkeley Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship 2013-2014, University of California, Berkeley
- NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology 2010-2013, University of California, San Diego
- National Academies Ford Predoctoral Fellowship 2004-2009, University of California, Berkeley
- NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant 2006, University of California, Berkeley