Contact information

Faculty office:
P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 9)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)9-1911
fax +358-(0)9-191 57561

Faculty office open
Mon-Thu 12-14
Fri closed

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


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.

How do plants and animals make up nature? (11.12.2013)

Kindergarten children, a few handfuls of researchers, caterpillars and a microscope. This is the recipe they used in Viikki to make new science enthusiasts – and hopefully researchers for the 2020s.


Golden angle in plants: two hormone-based fields needed for robustness of leaf orientation (18.12.2013)

A recent article in the Nature by a research consortium including Professor Yrjö "Ykä" Helariutta and a previous post doc in his group, Anthony Bishopp, sheds light to the phyllotactic golden angle mystery - why each new leaf emerges from the shoot apical meristem at an exact 137.5 degree angle from the previous one.


Avoidance of superparasitism is the fundamental mechanism controlling a parasite's optimal foraging strategy (17.12.2013)

Christelle Couchoux investigated in her doctoral dissertation the foraging behaviour of the wasp Hyposoter horticola, an egg-larval parasitoid of the Glanville fritillary butterfly Melitaea cinxia. Interactions between H. horticola and its host are strongly affected by competition among the adult female wasps.

Disturbing the spontaneus synchronous activity in developing brain may cause problems in the future (13.12.2013)

Johanna Huupponen has, for the first time, been able to experimentally dissect the roles of asynchronous vs. synchronous activity on synaptic refinement in the hippocampus. Spontaneous synchronous activity is essential for the stabilization and maturation of immature CA3-CA1 synapses, and that network desynchronization leads to weakening of glutametergic transmission in the CA1 area.


Doctoral dissertation prize to Jonna Saarimäki-Vire (9.12.2013)

Jonna Saarimäki-Vire from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Niina Suni from the Faculty of Pharmacy received the Viikki Research Group Organization (VRGO) best dissertation prizes, both worth € 1,000.

Jari Niemelä

Professor Jari Niemelä continues as the Dean (29.11.2013)

Professor of Urban Ecology, Jari Niemelä, has been chosen to continue as the Dean of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in 2014–2017. Professor Jari Niemelä has been the Dean since the founding of the Faculty in 2004.


Mathematical model supports the right environmental decisions (28.11.2013)

A typical decision problem in an environmental field includes countless uncertain factors of both nature and human behavior. Teppo Juntunen has in his doctoral dissertation developed methods for the modeling of uncertainties in environmental decision problems. He has for example developed a model for oil spill management and a spatial multispecies stock assessment model using Bayesian inference.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae statistics

Respiratory infections: follow-up increased the knowledge from 1990's onwards (27.11.2013)

When respiratory infections in Finland started to be observed more closely in the late 1980's, the means of discovering different pathogens and also compiling statistics were rapidly developing. Riikka Räty researched in her doctoral dissertation respiratory viruses maily in army training centres and amongst small children in 1989–2005. She found out that RSV was the main respiratory virus in small children and adenoviruses were the most frequently identified pathogens in army recruits.


LDR microarray powerful in identifying microbial groups in water (22.11.2013)

The padlock based LDR microarray designed by Kaisa Koskinen for identifying northern Baltic Sea water column and anaerobic digestion reactor bacteria can be an accurate and sensitive method for identification of microbial groups. Amplicon sequencing is a powerful tool in identifying microbes and assessing the diversity. However, distinguishing between spurious and true community members remain a challenge, says Kaisa Koskinen in her doctoral dissertation.

Dissertation brings more light to muscular dystrophies (20.11.2013)

Jaakko Sarparanta examined the molecular pathways for several muscular dystrophies. Tibial muscular dystrophy (TMD) and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2J (LGMD2J) are caused by mutations in the C-terminal part of the sarcomeric protein titin. Welander distal myopathy (WDM) results from a mutation in the prion-related domain PRD of the RNA-binding protein TIA1, a regulator of splicing and translation, and a component of stress granules. Jaakko Sarparanta suggests based on his research that increased aggregation of the TIA1 PRD causes muscle pathology in WDM.

Genome of the silver birch (Betula pendula) mapped in the University of Helsinki (14.11.2013)

University of Helsinki researchers have mapped the genome of the silver birch in cooperation with the Finnish Forestry Research Institute. Gained through state-of-the-art technology, this new information will be significantly useful in both the forestry industry and basic research.

Cortinarius triumphans

Number of Cortinarius species doubled in Finland in ten years (14.11.2013)

Cortinarius is the largest genus of Agaricales with a global distribution and thousands of species. Cortinarius species are important ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with different trees. Kare Liimatainen has revealed in his DNA-based research much needed information about species composition which has allowed for comparisons between North-America and Europe. For example the estimation of diversity of Cortinarius in Finland is now about same than it was previously estimated to be in Europe. The sequences of type specimens published create so far the largest, reliable ITS identification database for Cortinarius containing over 200 species.

Adaptive genetic and phenotypic differentiation is common also in marine habitats with no obvious physical barriers (13.11.2013)

Jacquelin DeFaveri explored in her doctoral dissertation the patterns of adaptive diversity and divergence among stickleback populations. The variety of habitats ranged from global to local geographic scales.
DeFaveri found indications that adaptation to freshwater environments may have been achieved through different genetic pathways in different populations. Also, an adaptive genetic and phenotypic differentiation is common, even in continuous marine habitats where there are no obvious physical barriers to dispersal and gene flow. These results are particularly noteworthy, because earlier studies have largely overlooked the patterns and magnitude of divergence.