Group members of the Plant Virus Interactions research group.
Kristiina Mäkinen, group leader

PhD, docent, professor of plant pathology

My research has focused on cellular and molecular biology of plant virus infection over 20 years. Currently, our work focuses on elucidating the host interactions and molecular mechanisms underlying potyvirus infection.

I have been involved as a principal investigator in a number of Academy of Finland funded research projects including bilateral international projects, in projects with sectorial institutes and industry partners funded by TEKES, and in EU-funded programs (e.g. Erasmus Mundus Brave).

I have supervised several PhDs in plant virology. I am a supervisor for Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences and Doctoral Programme in Microbiology and Biotechnology as well as a member of Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS).

I teach basic lecture and laboratory courses in biochemistry and gene technology and give lectures in virology and biotechnology. I have organized several post graduate courses on plant virology, heterologous protein production in plants, plant-pathogen co-evolution and RNA silencing.

I have served as a senior editor of Molecular Plant Pathology, special issue editor of Viruses and Frontiers in Microbiology and an ad hoc reviewer of several international journals. I have co-authored around 70 journal articles and book chapters.

Swarnalok De, PhD, postdoctoral researcher

Swarnalok De obtained his MSci degree in Microbial Biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He was selected to Erasmus Mundus BRAVE-Program (Plant Virology on a New Era – Breeding for Resistance) and did his PhD on plant virology as a student of the Doctoral program in Plant Science in the University of Helsinki in 2014-2019. The major focus of his doctoral research was to understand the molecular mechanisms behind different roles potyviral silencing suppressor HCPro plays during PVA infection cycle.  At present Swarnalok works as a grant funded researcher in collaboration with Aalto University. His current research interest is to use PVA nanoparticles in emerging photovoltaics. Virus isolation and purification part of the project will be done at the University of Helsinki in collaboration with the Mäkinen group. 

Swarnalok De's contact and research profile in the University of Helsinki People Finder

Pinky Dutta, MSci, PhD researcher

Pinky Dutta obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Assam Agricultural University, India. She bagged a scholarship position in the Erasmus Mundus BRAVE-Programme to pursue Master of Science (Agriculture and Forestry) degree at the University of Helsinki. As her master’s thesis project, she tested the trans-replication system in potato virus X.  She embarked on her doctoral studies in January 2019, which is being funded by the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences for four years. Her research focuses on delving deeper into potyviral translation mechanisms and interactions between viral and host proteins. Pinky is specifically interested in investigating the prevalence of translational repression in potyviruses.  

Pinky Dutta's contact and research profile in the University of Helsinki People Finder

Maija Pollari, PhD, university researcher

Maija Pollari studied transcriptional regulation in cyanobacteria obtaining her PhD from the University of Turku in 2009. Subsequently she has worked at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki as research scientist and science communicator, respectively. She joined the Mäkinen group in 2016 to study host factors involved in potyvirus infections, and has recently returned to the team after a year of developing the heterologous production of cyanobacterial natural products. Currently she investigates how chloroplasts contribute to potato virus A infections. Maija is also interested in characterizing host-virus ribonucleoprotein complexes involved in the formation and stability of virus particles.

Linping Wang, PhD, postdoctoral researcher

Linping Wang obtained her MSc degree in medicine from Beijing Normal University, 2014, China. She then studied synergistic interaction of potyvirus and crinivirus and their interaction with plants at the Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki. The project included identification of chemical inhibitors for viral RNase III and phenotyping viral infection in sweetpotato plants using imaging-based methods. Linping completed her PhD in 2020. In her postdoctoral project she is interested in studying resistance breeding by targeting potyviral host susceptibility factors. Her main research interests are to obtain detailed information on the molecular mechanisms underlying virus infection in plants and to eliminate virus diseases from the crop plants either by using viral inhibitors or by breeding for virus-resistance.

Linping Wang's contact and research profile in the University of Helsinki People Finder

William Aspelin, MSci, PhD researcher

Virology has always been something of a focus in William’s studies: he started with bacteriophages and mammalian viruses during his studies at the University of Jyväskylä. After graduation, he went on to work with viral vectors at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. William, who had always been fascinated by plant viruses reached out to Dr Mäkinen to learn more during a short internship, and has now started his doctoral studies in the group. His doctoral thesis work focuses on the potyviral CI protein and its interactions with host factors. William hopes to develop breeding strategies for the production of sustainably potyvirus-resistant crops by CRISPR editing host susceptibility factors. 

William Aspelin's contact and research profile in the University of Helsinki's people finder