Principal investigators

PIs in MEB group

Marko Virta

Marko Virta, Ph.D.


tel: +358 (0)2941 57586

Research gate


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Jenni Hultman

PhD, Docent in Microbiology

Department of Microbiology

P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 9)
00014 University of Helsinki


tel: +358-2941-57111, +358-50-4487041



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I did my PhD to the Institute of Biotechnology at University of Helsinki in 2009 on microbial communities in municipal waste composting. After finishing my PhD I moved to USA for a two-year postdoctoral at the group of Janet Jansson at the prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. My postdoc project, recently published in Nature, focused on permafrost thaw resulting in changes in microbial communities and further causing climate change. The techniques learnt on DNA, RNA and protein ‘omcs’, the bioinformatics I did during this project and the collaboration initiated have been essential for my career and development as a scientist. To carry out these ‘omic’ analyses I worked closely with the Joint Genome Institute (JGI). I was also integral in establishing a bioinformatics pipeline in the Jansson lab to analyze 10-100s of gigabytes of sequence data. After returning to Finland I joined professor Björkroth’s group where I had an independent research line in applying computational microbial ecology learnt in Berkeley to the study of the psychrotrophic microbial communities. Currently I am a principal investigator and Academy research fellow at Department of Microbiology, University of Helsinki.

My main research interest in molecular microbial ecology with special interest in warming arctic region. I endeavor to determine functions and interactions of the microbial communities in order to understand how microbes in the arctic soils respond to the warming on a molecular scale. In addition in my lab I want to understand how microbial activity and resulting GHG production, or consumption, are altered upon thaw and upon resulting increase in nutrients. My lab’s research is interdisciplinary, combining cutting edge high-throughput sequencing technologies, genetics of microorganisms, bioinformatics and development of new techniques to the study the genetic response of microbes to different environmental conditions.