We are an international research group located at the Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland. We belong to Viikki Plant Science Centre. We are focusing on the genetic and environmental control of reproductive development and its natural variation in a perennial model woodland strawberry.
Timo Hytönen

Timo established the Strawberry Research Group in 2009. He works as an Associate Professor in molecular and translational plant biology at the Department of Agricultural Sciences and as a Principal Research Scientist at the NIAB EMR, UK.

Contact information:
Latokartanonkaari 7, P.O.Box 27, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Mobile: +358405782866


Tuomas Toivainen

Tuomas works as a post doc in the group. He is studying genetic and epigenetic basis of climate adaptation in the perennial model woodland strawberry. He is an expert on population genomics, and he is using whole-genome and epigenome data to explore signatures of natural selection in latitudinal populations. In addition, he is carrying out genome wide association studies to identify key regulators of perennial life cycle with potential roles on climate adaptation. Tuomas did his PhD thesis entitled "Genetic consequences of directional selection in Arabidopsis lyrata" in Prof. Outi Savolainen's group at the University of Oulu and joined Strawberry Research Group in early 2015.

Kathryn Mackenzie

Kathryn Mackenzie joined the group as a postdoc in late 2018. She is a grant-funded researcher (Independent Research Fund Denmark-International Postdoctoral Grant). Kathryn received her PhD from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2014. During her work at the University of Copenhagen she investigated strategies of interspecific hybrid development in ornamental and crop plants.  Currently, she studies the hormonal and molecular basis of fruit set and development in F. vesca.

Elli Koskela

I work as a postdoctoral researcher in the strawberry group. My focus is on studying the genetic basis of environmental adaptation in woodland strawberry using methods such as quantitative RT-PCR, various genotyping approaches and transgenesis. Before my current job at Dr. Hytönen’s group, I spent one year as a postdoc researcher at the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) in Barcelona, where I studied the photoperiodic flowering responses of diploid strawberries. I carried out my PhD thesis entitled "Genetic and environmental control of flowering in wild and cultivated strawberries" in Dr. Hytönen’s strawberry group. In my thesis, I used map-based cloning to identify the key floral repressor FvTFL1 in the woodland strawberry and uncovered the functional role of this repressor in cultivated strawberry and in woodland strawberry accessions with contrasting life cycles.

Javier Andres Jimenez

Javier is a PhD student who is studying genetic control of plant architecture in Rosaceae using woodland strawberry as a model. Many Rosaceae fruit trees form vegetative long shoots and fruit bearing short shoots from their axillary buds. These structures are comparable to stolons (runners) and axillary leaf rosettes (branch crowns) found in strawberry plants. Javier carries out GWAS and QTL mapping to identify new candidate genes controlling axillary meristem fates and generates mutant lines to characterize the functions of key genes. These studies will help to develop new strategies to improve productivity in perennial fruit crops.

Sergei Suprun

Sergei works on inflorescence development in woodland strawberry. His PhD project, “Genetic and hormonal control of inflorescence architecture in woodland strawberry”, uses several candidate genes and hormone reporter lines to reveal the regulation of meristem identity transitions and branching patterning in cymose inflorescences of strawberry.

Alumni members

Dr. Takeshi Kurokura (lecturer at the Utsunomiya University, Japan)

Dr. Katriina Mouhu (postdoc in the Gerbera Laboratory, University of Helsinki)

Dr. Marja Rantanen (researcher at LUKE -Natural Resources Institute Finland)

Dr. Samia Samad