|Abstract:Cooperation has been essential to the evolution of biological complexity, but many societies struggle to overcome internal conflicts and divisions. Dictyostelium discoideum, or the social amoeba, has been a useful model system for exploring these conflicts and how they can be resolved. When starved, these cells communicate, gather into groups, and build themselves into a multicellular fruiting body. Some cells altruistically die to form the rigid stalk, while the remainder sit atop the stalk, become spores, and disperse. Evolutionary theory predicts that conflict will arise over which cells die to form the stalk and which cells become spores and survive. The power of the social amoeba lies in the ability to explore how cooperation and conflict work across multiple levels, ranging from proximate mechanisms (how does it work?) to ultimate evolutionary answers (why does it work?). Recent studies point to solutions to the problem of ensuring fairness, such as the ability to suppress selfishness and to recognize and avoid unrelated individuals. This work confirms a central role for kin selection, but also suggests new explanations for how social amoebae might enforce cooperation. New approaches based on genomics are also enabling researchers to decipher for the first time the evolutionary history of cooperation and conflict and to determine its role in shaping the biology of multicellular organisms.