Airi Palva research group

Our research is focused on the molecular biology and diagnostic tools of intestinal microbiota, on host-microbe interactions and lactic acid bacteria as vaccine vectors and probiotics for the prevention of intestinal infections. In particular, we are currently isolating and characterizing new strictly anaerobic bacteria associated with healthy or diseased gut and addressing questions to understand the molecular mechanisms of gut commensal colonization, pathogen exclusion, and host-microbe interplay.

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of gut commensal colonization, pathogen exclusion, and host-microbe interplay.

Funded by the Academy of Finland (Grant No. 277362). Further information on research is available in the  research portal.

"Intestinal Microbiota in Health and IBS" -Group

This project is funded by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation (2016-2018).

This project is focused on the characterization and quantification of the bacterial phylotype diversity in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We are particularly interested in finding out whether alterations of gut microbiota could underlie the GI tract functional disorders, such as the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

We have approached this question by comparing the GI microbiotas of IBS patients and healthy volunteers with a range of molecular techniques, and discovered variation between IBS and control subjects in the levels of several bacterial genera. Furthermore, we have found that several previously unknown bacterial phylotypes are associated with either IBS or with the healthy gut. Now we have focused on these indicator species and isolated and genome-sequenced a butyrate-producing Anaerostipes hadrus strain, associated with the healthy gut, as well as a novel Ruminococcus-like strain RT94, representing an IBS-associated phylotype. Our ongoing project aims at isolating, pure culturing and characterizing, with the help of single cell genomics, a previously uncultured bacterial phylotype associated with the healthy gut. We are also currently surveying the prevalence of this phylotype in humans and animals and factors affecting its residency, with special interest on its potential interactions with the host, other members of the gut microbiota and probiotics.

Current Project Members:
Airi Palva, Professor
Dr. Ulla Hynönen, researcher


Relevant Reading:

Hynönen, U., Rasinkangas, P., Satokari, R., Paulin, L., de Vos, W. M., Pietilä, T. E., Kant, R. & Palva, A. (2016). Isolation and whole genome sequencing of a Ruminococcus-like bacterium, associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Anaerobe 39:60-67. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2016.03.001

Kant, R., Rasinkangas, P., Satokari, R., Pietilä, T.E. & Palva, A. (2015). Genome sequence of the butyrate-producing anaerobic bacterium Anaerostipes hadrus PEL 85. Genome Announc. 3(2). pii: e00224-15. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00224-15.

Kassinen, A., Krogius-Kurikka, L., Mäkivuokko, H., Rinttilä, T., Paulin, L., Corander, J., Malinen, E., Apajalahti, J. & Palva, A. (2007). The fecal microbiota of irritable bowel syndrome patients differs significantly from that of healthy subjects. Gastroenterology 133:24-33.

Malinen, E., Rinttilä, T., Kajander, K., Mättö, J., Kassinen, A., Krogius, L., Saarela, M., Korpela, R. & Palva, A. (2005). Analysis of the fecal microbiota of irritable bowel syndrome patients and healthy controls with real-time PCR. American Journal of Gastroenterology 100:373-382.

Rinttilä, T., Kassinen, A., Malinen, E., Krogius, L. & Palva, A. (2004). Development of an extensive set of 16S rDNA-targeted primers for quantification of pathogenic and indigenous bacteria in fecal samples by real-time PCR. Journal of Applied Microbiology 97:1166-1177.