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Thomas Merritt

Thomas Merritt

Full Professor, School of Natural Sciences
School of Natural Sciences
Science, Engineering and Architecture
F-310, Science Building


A transplanted American, Dr Merritt started his research group at Laurentian University in 2006. Origianlly focused on using Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, to ansewr questions about the genetics of metabolism, Merritt's group has expanded to explore many different questions and include many different organisms. 

Dr Merritt's contributions also extend beyond the academic setting and into the non-scientific community. As a committed science communicator and partner with Science North, Canada’s second largest science centre, Merritt has shared the importance of genetics research as a TEDx speaker, educator, and writer. For the last eight years, he has curated a science art show, most recently in partnership with Science North. His pop-sci article on trapping flies – and the science of model species – has almost 500,000 hits on, an on-line academic news source. 

Outside of science, Dr Merritt is an active paddler and rower and runs a ParaSport program making these sports accessible to people with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. Over the last 12 years, the award-winning program has supported both high-performance and recreational athletes and is a central feature in accessible sport in Northern Ontario.


  • 2000  Ph.D. – The evolution of vertebrate neural isozymes

     Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina

  • 1995  M.Sc. – Regulation of the development of sex-specific genital muscles by the doublesexge

        Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, 

  • 1991  B.Sc. with Honors & Distinction

        Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Academic Appointments

07/14-present  Full Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Laurentian University

07/11-06/14     Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Laurentian University

01/10-12/19     Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics and Genomics, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,    Laurentian University

07/06-06/11     Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Laurentian University

07/05-07/06     Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Long Island University; Research Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University.

01/01-06/05     Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University.

On The Web


Dr Merritt’s research combines bioinformatics, functional genomics, and experimentation to explore metabolism and genetic networks. Merritt’s group studies the interactions between genes, genetic backgrounds, and the environment in a variety of stress response systems. In one project, we are using metabolomics and the SNOLAB particle physics laboratory, located 2 km underground in an active mine, to understand deep underground physiology. Other projects investigate oxidative stress and the NADP(H) enzymes. Merritt’s contributions also extend beyond the research setting and into the non-scientific community. As a committed science communicator and partner with Science North, Canada’s second largest science centre, Merritt has shared the importance of genetics research as a TEDx speaker, educator, and as a contributor to news sources. His article on trapping flies – and the science of model species – was the most read article of 2017 at, an on-line academic news source. In 2017, Merritt partnered with a local primary school to set a world record for most people isolated DNA at one time.


Yang G, Y Ju, M Fu, Y Zhang, Y Pei, M Racine, S Baath*, TJSMerritt, R Wang, L Wu 2018 Cystathionine gamma-lyase/hydrogen sulfide system is essential for adipogenesis and fat mass accumulation in mice. Biochim Biophys Acta. Feb;1863(2):165-176. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2017.11.008.

Doran*, M, N Mykytczuk, A Bieniek*, A Methé*, TJS Merritt 2017 Evaluation of Quenching and Extraction Procedures for Performing Metabolomics in Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. Metabolomics 13: 156. DOI 10.1007/s11306-017-1298-4

Merritt, TJS, and AJ Bewick* 2017 Genetic Diversity In Insect Metal Tolerance. Frontiers in Genetics. 8: 172. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2017.00172

Doran*⁠, ⁠ML, J M Knee⁠⁠*, N Wang⁠⁠, TZ Rzezniczak*⁠, TL Parkes, L Li⁠, TJS Merritt 2017 Metabolomic analysis of oxidative stress: Superoxide dismutasemutation and paraquat induced stress in Drosophila melanogaster. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 113: 323–334. 

Lessel* CE, TL. Parkes, J Dickinson, and TJS Merritt 2017 Sex and Genetic Background Influence Superoxide Dismutase (cSOD)-Related Phenotypic Variation in Drosophila melanogaster. G3 Gene, Genomes, Genetics 7: 2651-2664.

de Carvalho, NR, NR Rodrigues, GE Macedo, IJ Bristot, AA Boligon, MM de Campos, FAB Cunha, HD Coutinho, F Klamt, TJS Merritt, T Posser, and JL Franco 2017 Eugenia uniflora Leaves Essential Oil Promotes Mitochondrial Dysfunction In Drosophila melanogasterThrough The Inhibition Of Oxidative Phosphorylation. Toxicological Research 6: 526-534.

Auld*, RR, NCS Mykytczuk, LG Leduc, and TJS Merritt 2017 Seasonal variation in an acid mine drainage microbial community. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 63: 137-152.

Cutler*, B, T Eger, TJS Merritt, A Godwin 2017 Comparing para-rowing setups on an ergometer using kinematic movement patterns of able-bodied rowers. Journal of Sports Sciences. 35(8): 777–783. 

MacMillan, HA, JM Knee*, AB Dennis, H Udaka, KE Marshall, TJ S Merritt, BJ Sinclair 2016 Cold acclimation wholly reorganizes the Drosophila melanogastertranscriptome and metabolome. Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/srep28999

Cutler*, B, TJS Merritt, T Eger, A Godwin 2015 Using Peak Vicon data to drive Classic JACK animation for the comparison of low back loads experienced during para-rowing. International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation 5(2): 99-112. 

Bing*, X, TZ Rzezniczak*, JR Bateman, TJS Merritt 2014 Transvection-Based Gene Regulation in Drosophila Is a Complex and Plastic Trait. G3 4(11): 2175-2187.

Knee*, JM, TZ Rzezniczak*, K Guo, A Barsh, TJS Merritt 2013 A novel ion pairing LC-MS metabolomics protocol for study of a variety of biologically relevant metabolites. Journal of Chromatography B 936: 63-73.

Harniman*, R, TJS Merritt, LJ Chapman, D. Lesbarreres, ML Martinez 2013 Population differentiation of the African cyprinid Barbus neumayeriacross dissolved oxygen regimes. Ecology and Evolution 3(6): 1495-1506.

Auld*, RR, M Myre*, NCS Mykytczuk, LG Leduc, and TJS Merritt 2013 Characterization of the Microbial Acid Mine Drainage Microbial Community using Culturing and Direct Sequencing Techniques. Journal of Microbiological Methods 93: 108-115.

Auld*, R, JM Quattro, TJS Merritt 2012 Molecular evolution of teleost neural isozymes. Journal of Molecular Evolution 75: 198-213.

Rzezniczak*, TZ and TJS Merritt 2012 Interactions of NADP-Reducing enzymes across varying environmental conditions: a model of biological complexity. G3 Gene, Genomes, Genetics 2: 1613-1623.

Rzezniczak*, TZ, TE Lum*, R Harniman*, TJS Merritt 2012 A combination of structural and cis-regulatory factors drive biochemical differences in Drosophila melanogastermalic enzyme. Biochemical Genetics 50: 823-837.

Paula, MT, AP Zemolin, AP Vargas, RM Golombieski, ELS Loreto, AP Saidelles, RS Picoloto, EMM. Flores, AB Pereira, JBT Rocha, TJS Merritt, JL Franco, and T Posser 2012 Effects of Hg(II) Exposure on MAPK Phosphorylation and Antioxidant System in D. melanogaster. Environmental Toxicology DOI: 10.1002/tox.21788.

Babin-Fenske, JJ, TJS Merritt, JM Gunn, T Walsh*, and D Lesbarreres 2012 Phylogenetic analysis of Hyalella colonization in lakes recovering from acidification and metal contamination. Canadian Journal of Zoology 90:624-629.

Lum*, TE and TJS Merritt 2011 Non-classical Regulation of Transcription: Interchromosomal-interactions at the Malic Enzyme Locus of Drosophila melanogasterGenetics 189: 837-849.

Rzezniczak*, TZ, L Douglas*, JH Watterson, and TJS Merritt 2011 Paraquat administration in Drosophilafor use in metabolic studies of oxidative stress. Analytical Biochemistry 419:345-347. 

Bernard*, KE, TL Parkes, and TJS Merritt 2011 A Model of Oxidative Stress Management: Moderation of Carbohydrate Metabolizing Enzymes in SOD1-Null Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE 6:e24518.

Merritt, TJS, L Douglas*, TZ Rzeznickzak*, and JH Watterson. 2011 Rapid and Simple Analysis of Paraquat in Tissue Homogenate by Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Analytical Methods 419:345-347.

Yang, C-S, MJ Thomenius, EC Gan, W Tang, CD Freel, TJS Merritt, LK Nutt, and S Kornbluth. 2010 Metabolic regulation of Drosophila apoptosis through inhibitory phosphorylation of Dronc. The EMBO Journal 29: 2715-2723.

Merritt, TJS, C Kuczynski, E Sezgin, C-T Zhu, S. Kumagai, and W.F. Eanes. 2009. Quantifying interactions within the NADP(H) enzyme network in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 182: 565-574.

Eanes, WF, TJS Merritt, JM Flowers, S Kumagai and C-T Zhu. 2009. Direct evidence that genetic variation in glycerol-3-phosphate and malate dehydrogenase genes (Gpdhand Mdhl) affects adult ethanol tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 181: 607-614.

Bernard, KE, TL Parkes and TJS Merritt. 2009. Teaching behavioural genetics using drosophila larval phototaxis. Drosophila Information Service 92: 172.

Lum*, TECH and TJS. Merritt. 2008. Genotyping and enzyme activity measurements of the Adhpolymorphism: a simple exercise in population genetics, biochemistry, and the connection of genotype and phenotype. Drosophila Information Service 91: 155-156.

Tremblay*, A, D Lesbarreres, TJS Merritt, and J Gunn. 2008. Genetic structure and phenotypic plasticity of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) populations influenced by habitat, predation, and contamination gradients.  Integrative Environmental Assessment and Management 4: 264-266.

Eanes, WF, TJS Merritt, JM Flowers, S. Kumagai, E Sezgin, C-T Zhu.  2006 Flux Control and excess capacity in the enzymes of glycolysis and their relationship to flight metabolism in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 19413-19418.

Merritt, TJS, E Sezgin, C-T Zhu, and WF Eanes. 2006 Triglyceride pools, flight, and genetic variation at the Gpdhlocus in Drosophila melanogaster.  Genetics 172: 293-304.

Merritt, TJS, DD Duvernell, and WF Eanes. 2005 Natural and synthetic alleles provide complementary insights into the nature of selection acting on the Men polymorphism of Drosophila melanogaster.  Genetics 171: 1707-1718.

Merritt, TJS, CR Young, RG Vogt, RC Wilkerson, and JM Quattro. 2005. Intron retention identifies a malarial vector within the Anopheles (Nyssorhynchus) albitaris complex (Diptera: Culicidae). Molecular Phylogeneitcs and Evolution 35: 719-724.

Matzkin, LM, TJS Merritt, C-T Zhu, and WF Eanes. 2005. The structure and population genetics of the breakpoints associated with cosmopolitan inversion In(3R)Paynein Drosophila melanogaster.  Genetics 170: 1143-1152. 

Merritt, TJS and JM Quattro. 2003. Evolution of the vertebrate cytosolic malate dehydrogenase gene family: Duplication and divergence in actinopterygian fish. Journal of Molecular Evolution 56(3): 265-276.

Merritt, TJS and JM Quattro. 2002. Negative charge correlates with neural expression in vertebrate aldolase isozymes. Journal of Molecular Evolution 55(6): 674-683.

Merritt, TJS and JM Quattro. 2001. Evidence for a period of directional selection following gene duplication in a neurally-expressed locus of triosephosphate isomerase. Genetics 159(2): 689-697.

Merritt, TJS, L Shi, MC Chase, MA Rex, RJ Etter, and JM Quattro. 1998. "Universal" cytochrome b primers facilitate intraspecific comparisons in Molluscan taxa. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology 7: 7-11.

Merritt, TJS, S LaForest, GD Prestwich, JM Quattro, and RG Vogt. 1998. Patterns of gene duplication in Lepidopteran pheromone binding proteins. Journal of Molecular Evolution 46: 272-276.