Photo of Root Gorelick

Root Gorelick


Degrees:B.A. (Cornell), M.A. (Temple), M.S., M.A. (New Mexico State), M.S., Ph.D. (Arizona State)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1586
Office:Office: 4625 CTTC Building
Lab: 4660/4665 CTTC Building
Website:Visit my lab website


Our lab conducts evolutionary theory, along with classical botany and natural history. Primarily, we research evolution of sex – including meiosis, fertilisation, sex determination, matings, self sexuality and asexuality – with the goal of creating theories that apply to all eukaryotes. We look at sex from both haploid and diploid perspectives. We examine the functions of sex and how sex provides cohesion to individuals, populations and species. Antithetically, we have shown that sex decreases genetic and genomic variation, which raises the bar on how biological diversity is created. For that reason, we have taken an epigenetic tack to examining how heritable epigenetic changes add greater developmental and phenotypic plasticity.

We also investigate how polyploidy, endoploidy, and chromosomal fission affect diversity, especially of radiations. To compliment this work on evolutionary mechanisms that generate diversity, our lab constructs methods for quantifying diversity (bordering on mathematical biology), which also has ecological and sociological implications. Evolutionary theory is greatly supported by natural history. Lab members have expertise in various taxa and are thereby able to initially test theories purely on background knowledge. While most current lab members are experts on zoology, I am a classical botanist, with particular interests in cacti, insectivorous plants, and cone-bearing seed plants.

There are a potpourri of other research areas in which we work, such as information theory to quantify diversity, climate change, mathematical modeling, philosophy of science, and Indigenous perspectives in ecology and evolution. Prospective students (graduate or undergraduate) interested in research in any of these areas should contact me.

Selected Publications

Gorelick R and Olson K (2013) Polyploidy is genetic hence may cause non-adaptive radiations, whereas pseudopolyploidy is genomic hence may cause adaptive non-radiations. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Part B. Molecular and Developmental Evolution) 320B: 286-294.

Gorelick R (2012) Mitosis circumscribes individuals; sex creates new individuals. Biology & Philosophy 27: 871-890.

Gorelick R (2012) Meiosis is not gender neutral. BioScience 62: 623-624.

Gorelick R and Heng HHQ (2011) Sex reduces genetic variation: a multidisciplinary review. Evolution 65: 1088-1098.

Gorelick R and Bertram S (2010) Multi-way multi-group segregation and diversity indices. PLoS One 5(6): e10912.

Gorelick R and Carpinone J (2009) Origin and maintenance of sex: The evolutionary joys of self sex. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 98: 707-728.