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core facilities department of biosciences

Welcome to the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences!


The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences with its neighbouring units forms the largest and most prominent scientific and educational unit for life sciences in Finland.

The significance of biological and environmental knowledge for the entire society is increasing. Applications of biosciences play significant role in health care and medical sciences. They also are extremely important in answering to environmental questions such as conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.


See also our departments:
Department of Biosciences
Department of Environmental Sciences



Kuva: Eliel Kilkki



First HiLIFE Fellows selected

The HiLIFE Fellows program aims to nurture excellence and increase interactions among researchers from different fields of life science. The first 56 Fellows have been selected for the first 3-year round of the new program.



Scientists close in on cracking 'enigma code' of common cold virus

The researchers revealed the workings of a ‘hidden code’ within the genome of Human Parechovirus." This discovery could be a great leap forward in curing a host of conditions,” Professor Sarah Butcher says.

Safe utilisation of dietary sugars requires dynamic control of redox balance

Without dynamic control of redox balance animals lose their ability to survive on sugar-rich food. The regulatory system to control redox balance involves sugar-dependent gene regulation and protein phosphorylation.

Our researchers awarded with an award of the best paper in Plant Cell in 2016

Maija Sierla, Jarkko Salojärvi, Kirk Overmyer, Mikael Brosché and Jaakko Kangasjärvi have discovered roles of for example MAP kinases in CO2-induced stomatal closure. The paper was named as one of the best Plant Cell papers in 2016.

photo Riikka Venesjärvi

Risks of oil spills closely monitored in the Gulf of Finland

The Gulf of Finland has the highest risk of oil spills in the Baltic Sea. Working under the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the Working Group on Risks of Maritime Activities in the Baltic Sea focuses on developing tools which will enable different institutions to understand the risks.

photo 123rf

Brain immune genes and neuropeptides associated with neuropsychiatric-like behavior in mice

The doctoral thesis of M. Sc. Li Ma may provide insight on the potential pathogenic molecular mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Arid Husby

Assistant Professor Arid Husby becomes a member of the Young Academy of Europe

The Young Academy of Europe is a pan-European initiative of outstanding young scientists for networking, scientific exchange and science policy.

Phosphorus causes toxic algal blooms. But what happens to phosphorus at the bottom of the lake? The research unit of Aquatic Biogeochemistry investigates that.


Ilkka Hanski 2016

Professor Ilkka Hanski's farewell lecture now in the web

Recorded last February, the video lecture highlights the core of biodiversity and biodiversity research.


rhino, photo: Enrico Di Minin

Potrait of Academician of Science Ilkka Hanski unveiled

Academy Professor Ilkka Hanski passed away on 10th May. His potrait by Alexander Baharev was unveiled on Viikki Campus on 23rd May.

Ilkka Hanski

Academy Professor Ilkka Hanski has died

The father of metapopulation theory, Professor Ilkka Hanski, was one of the world's top researchers in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Professor Sakari Kuikka is being interviewed about oil spills in the Gulf of Finland.


rhino, photo: Enrico Di Minin

Better data needed to stop sixth mass extinction

Just five per cent of datasets meet a 'gold standard'  needed for effective biodiversity conservation

Lion, photo: Enrico Di Minin

Global carnivore conservation is at risk

Global land conversion is estimated to lead to significant range loss and conflict with local people in the regions critical for the survival of already threatened carnivore species.  

ravintoverkko, kuva: Neo Martinez

Overfishing increases fluctuations in aquatic ecosystems

Overfishing reduces fish populations and promotes smaller sizes in fish. The fish also reach sexual maturity earlier than normal. However, the impact of overfishing is not restricted to fish: as the predators at the top of the food web dwindle, the stability of the entire aquatic ecosystem is at risk.

Glanville fritillary photo: Niclas Fritzén

Museum samples of extinct butterfly populations show how populations rise and fall

Fragmentation of habitat affects the evolution of butterfly movement and makes them better adapted to a changing environment. However, if too much habitat is lost the evolutionary change is not sufficient to rescue the species from extinction.

Ilkka Hanski photo Linda Tammisto

Professor Ilkka Hanski receives the esteemed Frontiers of Knowledge Award

Professor Ilkka Hanski, a holder of the honorary title of Academician of Science, is the first ever ecologist and evolutionary biologist to receive the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in addition to the Balzan Prize and the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences.

Mikaela Grönholm

ILS Doctoral Program's Best Mentor Award to Mikaela Grönholm

The Integrative Life Sciences (ILS) doctoral program started a new tradition by awarding the Best Mentor of the Year. The first recipient of the award is Docent Mikaela Grönholm from our Faculty.

Arabidopsis thaliana, photo: Veikko Hurskainen

CRKs fine-tune plant growth and defence

In addition to plant stress responses, cystein-rich receptor-like kinases (CRKs) are involved in many important developmental processes in plants. Niina Idänheimo proposes in her doctoral thesis that CRKs are essential regulatory elements of cellular redox circuits that relay environmental information to the cell. The role of CRKs in cellular crosstalk is essential for maintaining the delicate balance between growth and defence.

Katariina Nurmi doctoral dissertation Prevention of inflammatory cellular responses by ethanol and hemin – interplay between inflammasomes and processes inhibiting inflammationPrevention of inflammatory cellular responses by ethanol and hemin – interplay between inflammasomes and processes inhibiting inflammation

Ethanol prevents inflammatory cellular responses

Alcohol abuse predisposes to severe infections. On the other hand, light to moderate consumption of alcohol has been associated with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions. According to the doctoral thesis by Katariina Niemi these seemingly different responses could be explained by ethanol preventing inflammatory cellular responses in macrophages and mast cells.

Models help to predict the future of the Baltic Sea

Models help to predict the future of the Baltic Sea

Ecosystem modelling tools are necessary to explore how various human effects might affect Baltic Sea. But how complex the models should be? And how far into the future can we forecast? What will the future Baltic Sea look like?

A chick of the Lappet-faced vulture on the nest in the Namib desert, Namibia photo: Andrea Santangeli

Stepping up for vultures

Conservation scientists have so far largely focused on the biological side of conservation, but clearly almost no conservation project can succeed without considering the human dimension. Studying farmers’ behavior and decisions could help the conservation of species, such as vultures, that are strongly affected by the activities of humans.

mouse lemur photo Tuomas Aivelo

Parasite community dynamics in host individual-level cannot be inferred from the host population-level

Tuomas Aivelo studied for his doctoral thesis the dynamics of parasite communities of rufous mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus) living in the eastern montaneous rainforests of Madagascar. He developed a new method to identify parasitic nematodes from fecal samples. The method works well for different host species, for example mouse lemurs and gastropods, and can be used to perform more efficient and faster surveys of previously unknown parasite communities.

Tanjona Ramiadantsona doctoral thesis

Several reasons make species vulnerable for habitat loss

According to the thesis of Tanjona Ramiadantsoa, mode of dispersal, ecological specialization, temporal and spatial stochasticity, and competition are the most important mechanisms that should be considered while analysing species responses to changes in habitat structure.

Marco Milardi doctoral thesis about fish introductions

Fish introductions affect freshwater ecosystems in many ways

Terrestial sources can be very important in supporting introduced brown trout populations in small lakes at high latitudes. Introduced brown trout alter the abundance of micro- and macroinvertebrates, tells Marco Milardi in his doctoral thesis.

Kirsi Kiiski doctoral thesis myopathy

Nemalin myopathy diagnosed more easily

A new combination ofi NM-CGH microarray and exome-sequencing has accelerated mutation detection in nemalin myopathy, increased the coverage of the NM genes and improved the diagnostics of both NM and NM-related disorders.

There might be ways to exploit renewable energy and protect biodiversity

Global expansion of bioenergy possesses serious threats to biodiversity, whereas solar energy could have potential for power provision with limited impacts on biodiversity.

Elina Välimäki dissertation Activation of inflammasome and protein secretion by endogenous danger and microbe-derived signals in human macrophages

Proteins secreted by macrophages: differences between former reactive arthritis patients and healthy people

The doctoral thesis of Elina Välimäki aimed for exploring proteins secreted from human macrophages exposed to endogenous danger signals alone, and in combination with microbe-derived signals.
Her study showed for example that in persons with a former history of inflammatory joint disease reactive arthritis, the protein complex inflammasome is activated normally upon detection of microbe-derived signals. However, the secretion of two inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor and IL-23, is lower compared to the release of these cytokines from cells of healthy controls.

Dendrites and dendritic spines Olaya Llano

New interaction regulating synapse formation found

Dendritic spines in the central nervous system are crucial for learning and other cognitive processes. Olaya Llano aimed in her doctoral dissertation to identify molecular regulators of the structure and function of dendritic spines. She discovered that neuron-specific potassium chloride transporter KCC2 and guanine nucleotide exchange factor bPIXb act in synergy to regulate spinogenesis and synapse development.

Drosophila and dietary sugar sensing

Fruit fly research reveals genetic mechanisms of dietary sugar sensing

Scientists have identified a sugar sensing regulatory network, which is composed of several genes. Deregulation of this sugar sensing network leads to severely disturbed energy metabolism. The new insight gained in this study may also benefit research into human metabolic diseases.

Noble crayfish Astacus astacus

Noble crayfish: ecological factors are important to the causes and consequences of immune defence

Geographical variation in resistance to the crayfish plague and immune defence is, according to Christina Gruber's doctoral dissertation, independent of historical disease outbreaks in the studied subpopulations. Her research also demonstrates, for the first time in invertebrates, reproduction-related endogenous seasonal variation in the immune defence of noble crayfish.

Reverse cholesterol transport pathway, doctoral thesis by Reija Silvennoinen

Stress changes cholesterol transport in atherosclerosis

Macrophage-reverse cholesterol transport pathway is an important anti-atherogenic mechanism. The pathway is effectively modulated by psychological stress and mast cell activation, both of which are involved in atherosclerosis.

Man taking a photo - photo: Anna Hausmann

Social media data could contribute to conservation science

Planning conservation actions requires up-to-date information on biodiversity, but also on human pressures. Scientists who collect data are few and far between on a global scale, but nature enthusiasts are everywhere. Spending time on social media might be helpful for biodiversity conservation.

Faculty logo

From Bryoria to Sulcaria: A new lichen species named

Although Bryoria, a lichenized euascomycete genus, is a conspicuous, easily recognized and frequently collected, its species boundaries are poorly known. The results of Hanna Lindgren's doctoral dissertation show for example that Bryoria pseudocapillaris and B. spiralifera actually belong to the genus Sulcaria. Phylogenetic analyses also revealed that these two species are the same and they were named anew as Sulcaria spiralifera.

Claire Morandin doctoral thesis about ants

Biological functions strongly associated with caste phenotypic differences across the ant phylogeny

Queens and workers of social insects often share a similar genome, suggesting that the basis of this dimorphism must result from differences in expression of the same genes. The doctoral thesis of Claire Morandin demonstrates the plasticity of caste-biased expression patterns in ants at several levels. Few genes retain their caste-biased expression patterns across closely related species, lineages, or development stages.

Ilkka Hanski Academy Research Professor

Academy Research Professor Ilkka Hanski receives honorary title of Academician of Science

Ilkka Hanski (b. 1953) is one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. He is well known for his pioneering work in metapopulation biology and has conducted research on biodiversity and biodiversity conservation more generally.