|Abstract:Many microbes engage in social interactions. Some of these have come to play an important role in the study of cooperation and conflict, largely because, unlike most animals, they can be genetically manipulated and experimentally evolved. However, whereas animal social behavior can be observed and assessed in natural environments, microbes usually cannot, so we know little about microbial social adaptations in nature. This has led to some difficult-to-resolve controversies about social adaptation even for well-studied traits such as bacterial quorum sensing, siderophore production, and biofilms. Here we use molecular signatures of population genetics and molecular evolution to address controversies over the existence of altruism and cheating in social amoebas. First, we find signatures of rapid adaptive molecular evolution that are consistent with social conflict being a significant force in nature. Second, we find population-genetic signatures of purifying selection to support the hypothesis that the cells that form the sterile stalk evolve primarily through altruistic kin selection rather than through selfish direct reproduction. Our results show how molecular signatures can provide insight into social adaptations that cannot be observed in their natural context, and they support the hypotheses that social amoebas in the wild are both altruists and cheaters.