PhD student in Arctic microbial ecology group

I started my PhD thesis entitled "Functions and activity of soil microbial communities in the changing Arctic" in September 2019. 


LinkedIn: Sirja Viitamäki

I graduated as Master of Science in December 2018 with major in microbial ecology from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. I worked two and a half years in Experimental Evolution research group ( where I gained a lot of experience in lab work and did my master’s thesis in the effects of coevolution to population dynamics of experimental microbial communities. From there I moved to Molecular Environmental Biosciences group in 2019, to start my PhD research about horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in waste water microbial communities.

My approach in my research is experimental. I’m combining the knowledge and the techniques of the two groups and bring the microbial community to lab for a controlled environment. My work is supervised by professor Marko Virta, one of the two PIs of the MEB group and associate professor Teppo Hiltunen, the PI of the ExpEvo group in Turku.

I’m very happy to work with science and research and hope to learn many new skills during my PhD project. I find bacteria fascinating in their diversity and in all the things they can do. You can find diverse set of bacterial species from almost anywhere on this planet! In addition to causing diseases, they can protect a growing seedling, produce oxygen, feed tardigrades (the small super creatures that can survive almost anything) and thrive in eternal darkness and high pressure of sea bottom. Through horizontal gene transfer and mobile genetic elements bacteria can develop new properties such as antibiotic resistance in only a matter of hours. This makes their evolution fast and studying the transfer dynamics an intriguing research subject.