Contact information

Faculty office:
P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 9)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)294 1911

Faculty office open
Mon-Thu 12-14
Fri closed

Faculty office is closed 22 December 2014 – 5 January 2015.

International affairs, undergraduate studies and admission, Master's degree programmes:
bio-sci (at)

PhD studies and admission:
biojatko-neuvonta (at)

bio-diploma (at)

Personnel affairs:
bio-hallinto (at)


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



Actin dynamics change in dendritic spines as the spines develop (11.12. 2014)

In his doctoral dissertation, Mikko Koskinen developed a new approach to use fluorescence anisotropy to measure the level of actin bundling in dedritic spines. He also evaluated methods used to measure F-actin turnover in dendritic spines and the analysis of the data. He found out that the dynamics of F-actin change during the maturation of dendritic spines. The stable pool of F-actin increases in size and the turnover of the dynamic pool increases.

lake water photo: 123rf

Artificial sweeteners end up in surface waters and stay for a long time (10.12. 2014)

Many artificial sweeteners do not metabolise or degrade in wastewater treatment plants. Some also may have a photolytic half-life of 3–6 years, states Noora Perkola in her doctoral dissertation.

Helsinki Challenge

Three Faculty teams to semifinals in Helsinki Challenge (2.12. 2014)

Teams lead by Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, Kristina Lindström and Jari Niemelä search solutions to following everyday choices, developing Finnish agriculture towards a more sustainable future and building cooperation network for researching and supporting sustainable urban development.

Juho Kellosalo

Viikki Research Group Organisation's dissertation prize to Juho Kellosalo (1.12. 2014)

Kellosalo's doctoral dissertation from 2013 is a part of the research solving the TmPPase structure of a bacterium Themotoga maritima.

Petri Ala-Laurila

Award for scientific courage to Petri Ala-Laurila (24.11 2014)

Academy Research Fellow Petri Ala-Laurila receives an award for scientific courage on 27 November. Biophycisist Petri Ala-Laurila researches the absolute limits of vision.

Plantago lanceolata

Coinfection has a major role in driving disease dynamics in natural populations (19.11 2014)

In the dynamic pathogen metapopulation of Podosphaera plantaginis on Plantago lanceolata, local adaptation mediates pathogen life history trade-offs.

intein conserved sequence blocks

Intermolecular protein splicing: new uses in biotechnology (18.11 2014)

A. Sesilja Aranko describes in her doctoral dissertation an intein-mediated protein alternative splicing (iPAS) reaction which could be used to control protein functions in concentration and expression-order dependent manner.

Tempe Elephant Park, photo: Enrico Di Minin

Protected area expansion target: is a huge promise lost? (17.11 2014)

Globally coordinated protected area network expansion could deliver a result 50 percent more efficient compared to countries looking only at biodiversity within their own area. Land conversion is, however, fast degrading options for conservation.

faculty logo

EU's total responsibility for global emissions has increased (14.11 2014)

In her doctoral thesis Eija-Riitta Korhola, MEP during 1999–2014, seeks to explain why so little has been gained in international climate politics during the effort-taking climate actions of the past 20 years.

faculty logo

Department of Biosciences invites applications for the position of Professor of Microbiology (12.11 2014)

The Professor is specialising in the molecular and cellular biology of prokaryotes. The closing date for applications is Monday 15 December 2014.

a bat photo Risto Lindstedt

Bats identified as hosts of Bartonella mayotimonensis (4.11 2014)

The modern sequencing techniques used by Dr. Arto Pulliainen and his colleagues have shown that bats can carry a bacterial species previously been shown to cause deadly human infections in USA.

Yrjö Ykä Helariutta

Professor Yrjö Helariutta's team recruited to Cambridge (2.11 2014)

Yrjö Helariutta, professor of developmental plant biology, has been recruited to the University of Cambridge to continue his work there in the same capacity. Some of the members of his research group, approximately ten researchers in the Arabidopsis team, will move from Viikki to England. A handful of researchers focusing on vascular plants, will remain at the University of Helsinki, with Helariutta serving as their telecommuting superior.

Jouko Rikkinen University of Helsinki

Professor Jouko Rikkinen awarded a non-fiction prize for writers (27.10 2014)

The € 8 000 prize was given by the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers. Professor Rikkinen is known especially for his research about the symbiosis between algae and fungi but he is also a well-known and esteemed non-fiction writer.

adult goshawk photo Daniel Burgas

Retaining forests where raptors nest can help to protect biodiversity (24.10 2014)

Raptors can affect the distribution of other species and they can also be used to find forests with high biodiversity value, says Daniel Burgas in his doctoral dissertation.

Formica ants

Formica ant larvae readily engage in egg cannibalism (22.10 2014)

Formica ant larvae are far from powerless. Eva Schultner's thesis identifies larvae as individuals with selfish interests. The larvae have the power to act in social conflict. Egg cannibalism may allow larvae to have influence on their own caste fate or size and for example affect overall colony fitness.

southern white rhinoceros photo Enrico Di Minin

A legal trade in horn would improve rhino protection and help sustainable development (21.10 2014)

The extinction in the wild of the southern white rhino population could be prevented by letting local communities take responsibility of the animals and giving them permission to harvest horns in a controlled manner through a legal trade. Rhino horn is made of the same material as human hair and fingernails and grows back in 2–3 years.

Janne Sundell Lammi biological station

Janne Sundell appointed as the Director of the Lammi Biological Station (10.10 2014)

PhD Janne Sundell has been appointed as the Director of the Lammi Biological Station in Hämeenlinna. He has been the acting director of the station since 2009. Janne Sundell did his doctoral thesis on the effect on the population dynamics of the voles in 2002. He also researches the predators of the voles, such as stoats and weasels, and is interested also in brown bears and beavers.

bacteria compost

A plethora of useful microbes to be found in composts (8.10 2014)

By examining microbial communities in composts it might be possible to find new suppressive microbes against the soil-borne plant pathogens Pythium and Fusarium.

actin structure

Actin plays an important role in the nucleus (18.9 2014)

Kari-Pekka Skarp used a confocal microscope in finding out the active import and export methods of actin in the nuclei of living cells. The details on a biochemical level are also included in his doctoral thesis.

Glanville fritillary photo Tari Haahtela

Glanville fritillary genome sequenced (5.9 2014)

The Glanville fritillary is now the third species of butterfly in the world for which the full genome sequence and a high-resolution genetic map are available.

micronuclei Ghita Falck

Direct analysis of micronuclei may help assess chromosome alterations in vivo (26.8 2014)

Micronuclei are used as a biomarker of human genotoxic effect. The recognition of the contents of the micronuclei is of utmost importance. The direct analysis of micronuclei in uncultured peripheral T lymphocytes, combined with centromeric FISH, may provide a new possibility for the assessment of chromosome breakage and numerical chromosome alterations occurring in vivo, says Ghita Falck in her doctoral dissertation.

root growth Plethora

Core mechanism of root growth has been identified (25.8 2014)

Ari Pekka Mähönen and his colleagues have demonstrated how PLETHORA proteins and plant hormone auxin together orchestrate root growth.

tooth photo 123rf

Lab-grown teeth: maybe not a mission impossible (22.8 2014)

Maria Jussila's doctoral dissertation shows that there is potential in the human tooth tissue to create new teeth. The inhibition mechanism for this is, however, not yet known. Tooth stem cells could in the future be used for example treating hereditary tooth diseases.


Sequence databases are growing fast – new methods needed for operating (18.8 2014)

More and more sequences are submitted to public databases, so faster and computationally lighter methods are needed for sequence retrieval. Patrik Koskinen presents in his doctoral thesis a computationally more efficient tool a hundred times faster than the most commonly used BLAST. He also introduces new methods for the calculation of information content value so that it is possible to separate informative and uninformative annotations.

lake scene

Turbulence affects food webs in lakes(31.7. 2014)

Turbulence caused by climate change-induced wind and storm activities together with varying visibility conditions can have crucial effects for planktivorous predation in lakes, shows MSc Laura Härkönen in her doctoral thesis. Iintermediate turbulence together with contemporaneous increases in water color may also result in cascading effects on primary producers.

../images/nostokuvat/Podosphaera plantaginis heinäratamon lehdellä photo Ayco Tack.jpg

Habitat fragmentation increases vulnerability to disease in wild plants(13.6.2014)

Proximity to other meadows increases disease resistance in wild meadow plants, according to a study led by Academy Research Fellow Anna-Liisa Laine.

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Four doctoral dissertations to be presented in early June (10.6.2014)

There's practically no summer break with presenting the doctoral dissertations in public. Come and see for yourself – the events are open to all!

Molotkov Dmitry, 12 June: Role of actin-mediated motility of peripheral astrocytic processes in synaptic function »»

Lindström Riitta, 13 June: Modelling the evolutionarily conserved MANF/CDNF protein family in Drosophila melanogaster »»

Yang Ying, 13 June: Differential functions of mammalian Cdk7 and CCRK kinases in regulating transcription and ciliogenesis »»

Mäntylahti Sampo, 13 June: Development of NMR methods to study disordered proteins »»

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

First kinase cascade used by tumor cells to disrupt cell cilia found (23.5.2014)

Cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) are involved in critical cellular processes such as cell cycle and transcription. Ying Yang's thesis shows that Cdk7 and CCRK, both members of the Cdk family, do not have overlapping functions in mammals as suggested by orthologs in yeast. CCRK is part of a kinase cascade used by tumor cells to disrupt primary cilium, cell's sensory organelle.

Ilkka Hanski

Academy Professor Ilkka Hanski is a new member of EMBO (2.5.2014)

European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) has newly elected 106 outstanding researchers in the life sciences to its membership. Amongst the new members are two Academy Professors from Campus Viikki: Ilkka Hanski from the Department of Biociences and Jukka Jernvall from the Institute of Biotechnology.


3D measuring system to revolutionise research into the effects of plant genes (2.5.2014)

An extensive measuring system is being constructed in Finland to allow researchers to measure the properties of plants effectively.

brain photo:123rf

Novel resuscitation strategy for babies with birth asphyxia (3.4.2014)

A newborn baby suffering from birth asphyxia has lower oxygen levels and higher carbon dioxide levels in umbilical blood compared to a baby born without complications. Birth asphyxia is associated with seizures and possible problems later in life. Mohamed Helmy'son a rat model of birth asphyxia shows that gradually decreasing carbon dioxide during resuscitation after birth asphyxia significantly decreases seizures and improves outcome in later life.


Loop structure of omptins important for their proteolytic activity (26.3.2014)

Omptins are a family of conserved, integral outer membrane proteases widely distributed within Gram-negative bacterial species. The omptins of Yersinia pestis, Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli differ in substrate specificity.
Marjo Suomalainen's thesis demonstrates that the omptin proteolytic activity depends on specific interaction with lipopolysaccharide and the structure of their surface-exposed loops.

Päivi Tikka

Aiming for an electronical application process for doctoral education (12.3.2014)

Päivi Tikka began her work as coordinator for the Doctoral School in Biological, Environmental and Food Sciences in mid-January. Adapting fully to the new system will take its time, but the intention is to simplify the work of doctoral students at the University.

WRKY transcription factors

Two transcription factors crucial in Arabidopsis stress response and pathogen defense (6.3.2014)

Environmentally induced alterations in gene expression are mediated by transcription factors. According to the doctoral dissertation of Jing Li, two members of the plant-specific WRKY group III in Arabidopsis thaliana are the key components in cooperative regulation of developmental senescence, osmotic stress response and specific pathogen defenses.


The quality of the dissolved organic matter in river changes in the estuary (6.3.2014)

Biodegradation and flocculation remove riverine dissolved organic matter (DOM) in estuaries, and transform the remaining DOM pool that reaches the open sea. DOM quality has a pivotal role in the functioning of both of these essential mechanisms, says Eero Asmala in his doctoral dissertation.

Count Imre Festetics

Count Festetics – grandfather of genetics(28.2.2014)

Most of us have learned at school that Gregor Mendel was the founder of genetics. Count Imre Festetics, a renowned sheep breeder that preceded Mendel by half a century, remains, however, mostly forgotten.

Faculty of Philosophy

Artist M.A. Numminen and Professor Per-Edvin Persson to receive honorary doctorates (27.2.2014)

At its conferment ceremony to be held in May 2014, the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, will confer honorary doctorates on 13 prominent figures from academia, culture and various sectors of society. The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences is one of the four Faculties belonging to the Faculty of Philosophy.

mathematical biology group

Digital ears listen in the rainforest (27.2.2014)

A Finnish-Brazilian project is constructing a system that could estimate the dynamics of animal populations by using sound recordings, statistics and scientific computing.

UV-A acclimatises the plants to the solar radiation (12.2.2014)

Solar UV-A radiation makes an important contribution to acclimation of plants to sunlight, independently and interacting with UV-B, says Luis Morales in his doctoral thesis. He used outdoor experiments to find out what kind of molecular level responses to solar ultraviolet radiation ( 280-400 nm) silver birch and Arabidopsis have.

Phenotypic differences in nine-spined stickleback populations mainly due to genetical divergence (7.2.2014)

Observed phenotypic differences among marine and pond populations of nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) are likely to be based on genetic differentiation.

– Although environmental and maternal effects were shown to be important modulators of phenotypic variation, their role in explaining population differentiation appears to be secondary, says Nurul Izza Ab Ghani in her doctoral dissertation.

Precision drugs sought for anxiety disorders (31.1.2014)

University of Helsinki researchers are striving to find out how cell communication regulating kainate receptors contribute to the susceptibility towards anxiety disorders.The intention is to also develop drugs that would be effective against prolonged anxiety.

Symposium about ecological basis os risk analysis for marine ecosystems in Porvoo, Finland in June (22.1.2014)

The international ICES/PICES Symposium explores methods that can be used to analyse risk factors in marine ecosystems. Better risk assessment leads to improved decision-making.