Profile & activities

The central aim of the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences (DPPS) is to fulfil the ever growing needs for well qualified and highly motivated researchers in modern plant sciences and its industrial applications in Finland and globally.

Plants are central to life on this planet. They produce the oxygen we breathe, are the main source of our nutrition along with fibre and bioenergy. Plants are also a rich source of pharmaceutical and other novel products.

The rapidly increasing demand of food and fibre together with the requirement for sustainable energy such as biofuels requires extensive research and training of experts in different areas of plant sciences.


Research disciplines
  •     molecular plant biology
  •     genetics
  •     genomics and breeding
  •     physiology and biochemistry
  •     developmental biology
  •     pathology and biotechnology
  •     plant production
  •     ecophysiology
  •     systematics
  •     bioenergy
Courses and studying

A doctoral degree in the DPPS comprises a doctoral thesis and 40 credits of doctoral studies. The studies are divided into scientific content and transferable skills studies.

Part of the studies can be completed flexibly by presenting your research at scientific conferences, teaching, supervising/mentoring others, writing popular articles and attending relevant seminars.
Visit our study planning instructions for current doctoral researchers on the University's Instructions for Students.

The programme organises scientific content courses under four different themes, an annual symposium on 'hot topics' as well as a seminar series where you can present your research to your peers. You can also complete doctoral-level courses from other Finnish Universities, as well as from international Universities and research institutes.

Courses in research ethics and transferable skills are offered throughout the academic year by the Doctoral School in Environmental, Food and Biological Sciences (YEB).

Get started:

Events & activities

The DPPS get-together / annual meeting is organised off campus at the end of the spring term. The event is aimed at doctoral researchers, supervisors and alumni.

Research visits to other Universities and international institutes are organised at the beginning of the autumn term. Priority is given to DPPS members who are nearing the end of their thesis work, in order to make important contacts for possible future careers. Previous visits: 2019 - Plant Systems Biology, VIB, Ghent, Belgium; 2018 - Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany; 2017: Umeå Plant Science Centre, Umeå, Sweden.

DPPS Cafés are organised approximately once a month for all DPPS researchers to discuss with their peers topics related to studies and research.

DPPS members have the chance to participate in writing retreats at the various University of Helsinki biological stations. Articles, book chapters, review articles and other text can be written over a few days of concentrated writing.

Seminar series

Plant Club seminars are held once a month for the Viikki Plants community. Talks are given by doctoral researchers and post-doctoral researchers.

Seminars are organised as hybrid events with attendance possible either in person or online via Zoom.

10 attendances = 1 ECTS
20 attendances = 2 ECTS
Presentation = 1 ECTS
Plant Club maximum credits = 3 ECTS
Contact Karen Sims-Huopaniemi at the DPPS office to have your credits awarded.

Program Spring 2024

17th January

14th February

13th March

17th April

Program Autumn 2023

13th September

11th October

15th November

13th December




The Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS) is a virtual research environment on the Viikki campus of the University of Helsinki. More than 310 researchers from 52 different research groups are part of the centre.

ViPS Invited Seminars are held once a month, one hour before the Plant Club seminars. Each international speaker is hosted by a different PI from the Viikki campus. Research topics cover all the various research disciplines of the DPPS.

DPPS Alumni

66) Riikka  Mäkilä (8th December)
Hormonal regulation of vascular cambium stem cell niche
Supervisor: Ari-Pekka Mähönen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

65) Salla Tenhovirta (1st December)
Aerobic methane emissions from the shoots of Scots pine
Supervisors: Mari Pihlatie, Lukas Kohl & Markku Koskinen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

64) Katariina Vuorinen (18th August)
Orchestrating Plant Defences in Response to Botrytis cinerea and Apoplastic ROS : Hormone Interactions, Transcriptional and Posttranscriptional Regulation
Supervisors: Mikael Brosché & Kirk Overmyer
Testing engineer, Trimble Inc., Finland

63) Pezhman Baran (1st June)
Investigating plant resistance and infection patterns in a wild plant - case study of Plantago lanceolata
Supervisors: Anna-Liisa Laine & Jarkko Salojärvi
Data analyst, MedEngine, Finland

62) Bahram Peivastegan (31st March)
Transcriptome profiling of potato tubers in response to wet conditions and soft rot bacterium Dickeya solani
Supervisor: Minna Pirhonen

61) Sanna Ehonen (17th March)
Systemic signaling in plant gas exchange
Supervisors: Jaakko Kangasjärvi & Teemu Hölttä
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

60) David Israel (27th January)
The ecophysiology of plasma membrane aquaporins in Arabidopsis thaliana and Fagus sylvatica
Supervisor: Matt Robson
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

59) Mengxia Liu (19 August)
Identification of molecular and chemical markers that correlate with conifer resistance against root and stem decay pathogens (Heterobasidion annosum s.l.)
Supervisor: Fred Asiegbu
Lecturer, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China

58) Chi-Chuan Chen (18 August)
On the phylogeny and diversity of the microsoroid ferns (Polypodiaceae)
Supervisor: Jaakko Hyvönen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Turku

57) Lingping Zhu (6 May)
Polyketide reductases in Gerbera hybrida
Lecturer, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China

56) Xin Wang (18 March)
Genome editing and its use to study secondary growth in Arabidopsis thaliana
Supervisor: Ari-Pekka Mähönen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

55) Margaretta Christita (4 February)
Taphrina as model phytopathogenic yeasts infecting the model plant Arabidopsis and woody plant Betula pendula
Supervisors: Kirk Overmyer & Kaisa Nieminen
Senior researcher, National Research and Innovation Agency/BRIN, Indonesia

54) Saara Hartikainen (26 October)
Adjustment of optically measured leaf traits to patterns of solar spectral irradiance in plant taxa from high elevations and from forest understoreys
Supervisor: Matt Robson
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

53) Teng Zhang (20 August)
Developmental Patterning of Asteraceae Flower Heads
Supervisors: Paula Elomaa & Teemu Teeri
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki

52) Hanna Haikka (23 April)
Genomic prediction in practical breeding program: A case study in oat and barley
Supervisors: Outi Manninen & Teemu Teeri
Plant Breeder, Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd.

51) Yan Yan (5 February)
Long-term exposure to solar blue and UV radiation in legumes: pre-acclimation to drought and accession-dependent responses in two successive generations
Supervisors: Pedro Aphalo, Fred Stoddard & Victor Sadras
Software Engineer, Hansen Technologies, Finland

50) Eija Virolainen-Arne (3 December)
Plant oxygen deprivation stress and function of plant mitochondria under anoxia
Supervisor: Kurt Fagerstedt
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

49) Shreya Saha (20 November)
VPg-eIF(iso)4E interaction, coat protein production and virion formation in potato virus A infection
Supervisor: Kristiina Mäkinen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Cambridge, UK

48) Neha Rai (17 November)
Perception of solar UV radiation and blue light by plants: photoreceptors, transcriptome and environmental acclimation
Supervisors: Pedro Aphalo, Tarja Lehto & Luis Morales
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Geneva, Switzerland

47) Satu Ruokolainen (22 October)
The MADS world of floral regulators in Gerbera hybrida
Supervisors: Teemu Teeri & Paula Elomaa
Sales manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Finland

46) Juan Alonso Serra (27 August)
Molecular and mechanical control of plant secondary development
Supervisors: Ykä Helariutta & Kaisa Nieminen
Postdoctoral researcher, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France

45) Fang Wang (11th June)
Effect of light on water balance through gas exchange
Supervisors: Pedro Aphalo & Matt Robson
Research coordinator, Aalto University, Finland

44) Craig Brelsford (4th June)
Light quality affects leaf pigments and leaf phenology
Supervisor: Matt Robson
Plant and Data Analyst, Yield Systems, Finland

43) Nashmin Ebrahimi (29th May)
Selenium biofortification in crops and its cycling in the agroecosystem
Supervisor: Mervi Seppänen
Research scientist, ProFarm Technologies Ltd., Finland

42) Linping Wang (26th May)
Identification of chemical inhibitors for RNase III of Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV)
Supervisor: Jari Valkonen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

41) Kerri Hunter (13th December)
The cysteine-rich receptor-like kinase CRK2 during stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana
Supervisor: Michael Wrzaczek
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

40) Kai Wang (29th November)
Protomyces Comparative Genomics and Modulation of Arabidopsis Immunity
Supervisor: Kirk Overmyer
Lecturer, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China

39) Mukrimin (31st October)
Heterobasidion – conifer pathosystem: Host mycobiome and evaluation of potential resistance markers
Supervisor: Fred Asiegbu
Lecturer, Hasanuddin University, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

38) Yu Sun (11th October)
Phylogeny and biogeography of liverworts (Marchantiophyta), evidence from the Southern Hemisphere family Schistochilaceae and the cosmopolitan genus Herbertus (Herbertaceae)
Supervisor: Xiaolan He
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

37) Mirko Pavicic (2nd October)
Multifaceted roles of RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases : reverse phenomic approaches
Supervisor: Kristiina Himanen
Post-doctoral researcher, Oakridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, USA

36) Aleksia Vaattovaara (28th June) Awarded the best PhD thesis prize of 2019!
Evolution of the DUF26-containing proteins in plants
Supervisors: Michael Wrzaczek & Jarkko Salojärvi
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

35) Friederike Gehrmann (17th May)
Effects of Microclimatic variation of snowmelt and temperature on Subarctic-alpine and Arctic Plants
Supervisors: Heikki Hänninen & Timo Saarinen
Managing Editor, Nordic Journal of Botany, Lund, Sweden

34) Maria Kalliola (10th May)
Phytohormone-related crosstalk in pathogen and stomatal responses in Arabidopsis thaliana
Supervisor: Mikael Brosché
Senior Officer, Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency

33) Ali Amiryousefi (19th March)
Supervisors: Jaakko Hyvönen & Péter Poczai
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

32) Swarnalok De (17th January)
Interactions of potyviral protein HCpro with host metionin cycle enzymes and scaffolding proteins viracose in potato virus A infection
Supervisor: Kristiina Mäkinen
Post-doctoral researcher, Aalto University, Finland

31) Yafei Zhao (9th January)
Functional characterization of transcription factor LEAFY in Gerbera hybrida
Supervisors: Paula Elomaa & Teemu Teeri
Visiting researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

30) Samia Samad (10th August)
Regulation of vegetative and generative reproduction in the woodland strawberry
Supervisor: Timo Hytönen
Research scientist, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Russia

29) Juha Immanen (18th June)
Cytokinin signaling in hybrid aspen cambial development and growth
Supervisor: Ykä Helariutta
Research scientist, Natural Resources Institute, Finland

28) Elina Kettunen (4th May)
Diversity and evolution of dark filamentous microfungi on plant exudates
Supervisor: Jouko Rikkinen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

27) Tanja Paasela (15th December) Awarded the best PhD thesis prize of 2017!
The stilbene biosynthetic pathway and its regulation in Scots pine
Supervisor: Teemu Teeri
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

26) Mikko Piirainen (13th December)
Taxonomic and phylogenetic studies on Salicornioideae (Amaranthaceae)
Supervisor: Pertti Uotila
Research scientist, Finnish Museum of Natural History, Finland

25) Marja Rantanen (15th September)
Light and temperature as developmental signals in woodland strawberry and red raspberry
Supervisors: Timo Hytönen, Pauliina Palonen & Paula Elomaa
Research scientist, Natural Resources Institute, Finland

24) Kean-Jin Lim (25th August)
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) heartwood formation and wounding stress: A view from the transcriptome
Supervisor: Teemu Teeri
Associate professor, Zhejiang A&F University, China

23) Pär Davidsson (30th June)
Oligogalacturonide signalling in plant innate immunity
Supervisor: Tapio Palva
Senior researcher, Hushållningssällskapet, Sweden

22) Mantas Survila (28th April)
Immune Responses to Pathogen Infection in Arabidopsis
Supervisors: Tapio Palva & Pekka Heino
Research Scientist, Lexogen GmbH, Austria

21) Juha Kontturi (10th February)
Type III polyketidesynthases from Gerbera hybrida
Supervisor: Teemu Teeri
Quality control scientist, Nanoform, Finland

20) Lauri Reuter (9th December)
Plant Cell Factories: Production of hydrophobin fusion proteins in plant cell cultures
Supervisors: Anneli Ritala, Jussi Joensuu & Teemu Teeri
Founder & Partner, Nordic FoodTech VC, Finland

19) Viacheslav Spirin (11th November)
Taxonomy and phylogeny of brown-rot fungi in the Antrodia complex (Polyporales, Basidiomycota)
Supervisors: Tuomo Niemelä, Otto Miettinen
Research scientist, Finnish Museum of Natural History, Finland

18) Hannu Hotti (14th October)
The killer of Socrates exposed - Coniine in the plant kingdom
Supervisors: Heiko Rischer, Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey & Teemu Teeri
Grant writer (research funding), University of Turku, Finland

17) Elli Koskela (2nd September) Awarded the best PhD thesis prize of 2016!
Genetic and environmental control of flowering in wild and cultivated strawberries
Supervisors: Timo Hytönen & Paula Elomaa
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

16) Sedeer El-Showk (30th May)
Auxin and cytokinin interactions regulate primary vascular patterning during root development in Arabidopsis thaliana
Supervisor: Ykä Helariutta
Freelance journalist for Nature Communications

15) Hanna Help-Rinta-Rahko (22nd April)
The interaction of auxin and cytokinin signalling regulates primary root procambial patterning, xylem cell fate and differentiation in Arabidopsis thaliana
Supervisor: Ykä Helariutta
Researcher, Finnish Food Authority

14) Hany El Sayed Bashandy (23rd January)
Flavonoid metabolomics in Gerbera hybrida and elucidation of complexity in the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway
Supervisor: Teemu Teeri
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

13) Niina Idänheimo (18th December)
The Role of Cysteine-rich Receptor-like Protein Kinases in ROS Signalling in Arabidopsis thaliana
Supervisors: Jaakko Kangasjärvi & Michael Wrzaczek
Post-doctoral researcher, Aalto University, Finland

12) Susanna Keriö (11th December)
Terpene analysis and transcript profiling of the conifer response to Heterobasidion annosum s.l. infection and Hylobius abietis feeding
Supervisor: Fred Asiegbu
Assistant Agricultural Scientist, Connecticut Agricultural Experment Station, New Haven, USA

11) Venla Jokela (27th November)
Regulation of flowering and canopy structure in timothy (Phleum pratense L.)
Supervisor: Mervi Seppänen
Account manager, Eurofins Viljavuuspalvelu Oy (agro soil testing laboratory), Finland

10) Linda Garlant (1st October)
Interaction between Hormone and Apoplastic ROS Signaling in Regulation of Defense Responses and Cell Death
Supervisor: Minna Pirhonen
Research assistant, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Belgium

9) Enjun Xu (12th June)
Interaction between Hormone and Apoplastic ROS Signaling in Regulation of Defense Responses and Cell Death
Supervisor: Mikael Brosché
Assistant Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

8) Mehmet Ali Keçeli (8th May)
Crosstalk in Plant Responses to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses
Supervisors: Tapio Palva & Gunter Brader
Plant Pathologist at MAY Agro Seed Company, Turkey

7) Ulla Holopainen-Mantila (20th March)
Composition and structure of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) grain in relation to end uses
Supervisors: Kurt Fagerstedt, Annika Wilhelmson
Research scientist, VTT, Finland

6) Martin Broberg (20th March)
Genetic profiling of the interactions between soft rot Pectobacterium species and plants
Supervisors: Tapio Palva, Minna Pirhonen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

5) Fuqiang Cui (16th December)
ROS signaling, phytohormone signaling and toxin tolerance: defense mechanisms in Arabidopsis thaliana against Botrytis cinerea
Supervisor: Kirk Overmyer
Associate Professor at the Zhejiang A& F University, China

4) Emad Jaber (31st October)
Pathobiology of Heterobasidion -Conifer tree interaction: Molecular Analysis of Antimicrobial peptide genes (Sp-AMPs)
Supervisor: Fred Asiegbu
Scientific Advisory Consultant, HelsinCo, Helsinki, Finland

3) Hamid Khazaei (26th September)
Leaf traits associated with drought adaptation in faba bean (Vicia faba L.)
Supervisor: Fred Stoddard
Associate Professor, Natural Resources Institute Finland

2) Oswalt R. Jiménez (26th June)
Genetic improvement of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) using local germplasm assisted by molecular markers
Supervisor: Helena Korpelainen
Researcher, Nicaragua

1) Kati Mouhu (10th January)
Molecular control of the yearly growth cycle in wild strawberry
Supervisors: Paula Elomaa, Timo Hytönen
Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland