Ykä Helariutta is a Group Leader and Professor of Plant Developmental Biology at the University of Helsinki, Finland (2005-) and University of Cambridge, UK (2014-).
He received his MSc (1990) and PhD (1995) from the University of Helsinki. Following his PhD work on floral development in gerbera and a post-doc investigating root development in Arabidopsis at the Benfey lab, New York University, he returned to Helsinki (1998) to launch his own research group focused on vascular development and wood formation. His group has been pioneering the understanding of gene regulatory network underlying phloem morphogenesis in Arabidopsis. He has been also focusing on understanding and engineering cambial development in tree species. Recently, he has started to pursue the genetic basis of sink tissue formation with a possible reference to engineering and breeding such tissues in plants.
Ykä has a large network of international collaborators. His lab has frequently been part of the Centre of Excellence Programmes of the Academy of Finland. He is leading recently awarded Centre of Excellence in Tree Biology (2022-2029). In 2013 and 2020, he was selected as Academy Professor of the Academy of Finland. During the last 10 years his research has been funded by the Academy of Finland, EU, Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other funding agencies. Recently, he has received Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation award for his studies on enhancing the carbon sink effect in trees and ERCPoC award for “Assessing the technical and business feasibility of Callose Enriched Plant Biomass as a solution for improving Biorefinery Industry processes and profit margins”. He has filed several patents during his career and has been an Editor or member of the editorial board for several journals including Science and Development. Recently, he has been appointed an Editor-in-Chief for Physiologia Plantarium.
My professional path has been always connected to scientific research. I obtained my PhD in Cancer Biology at the University of Zurich having previously worked on the programmed cell death signalling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana at the ETH-Zurich. For most of my career I worked in academia, but I was also involved in product development at the R&D sector of the bioindustry.
I joined Helariutta group in 2014 to support development of the research project focusing on vascular tissue development in the root of Arabidopsis thaliana and to help with relocating the lab from the University of Helsinki to Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU), UK. Recently, I have been managing the return of the group to the University of Helsinki. Working at the edge of the two world-class universities, I provide broad administrative, finance and personnel support to our research team, and personal assistance to Ykä, including grant applications and editorial tasks. I arrange academic visits and organize events such as group retreats, symposia and conferences. I have been also coordinating development and activities of the Centre of Excellence in Tree Biology from its inception till this day. I love working with teams and creating an inspirational environment for them to thrive.
I am fascinated by plants, so I focused my scientific career on plant biology. During my PhD (Peñarrubia lab, University of Valencia, Spain) I worked with plant nutrition and abiotic stress. Then, I moved from stress to development when I started my postdoc (Agusti lab, IMBCP; Valencia and Tuominen Lab, UPSC, Umea) studying how plants translated environmental stimuli in developing secondary growth. I joined Helariutta group to work with phloem development finding new regulators which bring some light on vascular patterning in plants.
I received my PhD from Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in July 2022, then I moved to Helariutta lab at the University of Helsinki to start my postdoctoral research. I am curious about carbon allocation in plant, and I am aiming to identify some new regulators that control loading or unloading in the Arabidopsis root.
I graduated from the University of Helsinki and started my PhD training in the Helariutta lab in August 2019. I am using Betula pendula as a model plant and I am focusing on different birch variants with distinctive shoot system phenotypes. My fascination is to explore developmental mechanisms that produce distinct tree crowns. I believe that understanding these processes will give us a possibility to grow trees of optimal properties in a given environment, such as orchards, parks and forests.
Throughout my scientific career, I have been interested in developmental biology. My PhD project (Kangasjärvi-lab, Helsinki, Finland) dealt with bud dormancy in trees. As a postdoc, I first studied flower development in various non-model species (Albert-lab, Buffalo, NY), then had an opportunity to look into developing mouse retina (Mu-lab, Buffalo, NY). Since joining the Helariutta team, I’ve focused on genetic screens to identify novel mutants with altered vascular patterning in Arabidopsis.
After completing an MSc degree in Harbin, China, I moved to Finland in 2015 to conduct my PhD studies in the Helariutta lab. I have been interested in plant developmental biology since my earlier education. Now, I am focusing on strigolactones and their effect on tree crown architecture. My major interests are genetics, automated phenotyping systems and data analysis.
Melis Kucukoglu-Topcu (Post-doc, currently Academy Research Fellow at University of Helsinki, Finland)
Eva Hellmann (Post-doc, currently Research Associate in Jonsson Group, SLCU, UK)
Donghwi Ko (Post-doc in SLCU; currently Research Associate in Jonsson Group, SLCU, UK)
Yuki Sugiyama (Post-doc in SLCU; currently HFSPO Fellow in Schornack group, SLCU, UK)
Lothar Kalmbach (Post-doc in SLCU; currently Junior Lecturer at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Sofia Otero Pérez (Post-doc in SLCU, UK; currently Science Advisor, Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain)
Iris Gildea (Sevilem) (PhD student, next position: Post-doc at the University of California, Davis, CA, USA)
Bernhard Blob (PhD student at SLCU; next position: Automation Scientist at Eurofins Genomics, Germany)
Jung-ok Heo (PhD student, next position: Researcher in the CJ CheilJedang food company based in Seoul, South Korea)
Juan Alonso Serra (PhD student, currently Post-doc ENS de Lyon, France)
Jing Zhang (Post-doc, currently Associate Professor at Nankai University, China)
Jiajia Chen (visiting PhD student, currently Editor at Fudan University, China)
Dawei Yan (Post-doc, currently Group Leader at the Henan University, China)
Juha Immanen (PhD student, currently tree breeding specialist at Luke)
Hanna Help (PhD student, currently Senior Researcher at Finnish Food Authority, Finland)
Robertas Ursache (PhD student, currently Career Track Fellow at CRAG, Spain)
Sedeer El-Showk (PhD student, currently freelance science writer, Nature Publishing group)
Kaori Furuta (Post-doc, currently Post-doc at the NAIST, Nara, Japan)
Shunsuke Miyashima (Post-doc, currently Assistant Professor at the NAIST, Nara, Japan)
Satu Lehesranta (Post-doc, currently Patent Officer in Papula-Nevinpat company, Helsinki, Finland)
Jan Dettmer (Post-doc, next position: Professor of Cell Biology, University of Erlangen, Germany)
Annakaisa Elo (Post-doc, currently Chief specialist in the LAB University of Applied Sciences, Finland)
Ana Campilho (Post-doc, currently post-doctoral researcher at the University of Porto, Portugal)
Melanie Decourteix (Post-doc, currently Associate Professor, Universite Clermont Auvergne, France)
Anthony Bishopp (Post-doc, currently Royal Society University Research Fellow, CPIB, University of Nottingham, UK)
Ove Lindgren (Post-doc, next position: Hannes Kollist Lab, Tartu, Estonia)
Annelie Carlsbecker (Post-doc, next position: Assistant Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden)
Sari Tähtiharju (Post-doc, currently: Senior Inspector at Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea Helsinki, Finland)
Siripong Thitamadee (Post-doc, currently: Associate Professor at Mahidol University, Thailand)
Kirsi Törmäkangas (Post-doc, currently: Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland)
Leila Kauppinen (Post-doc, currently: Coordinator, University of Helsinki, Finland)
Anne Vaten (PhD student, currently: Academy Research Fellow and PI at the University of Helsinki, Finland)
Kaisa Nieminen (PhD student, currently: Senior Scientist at Luke)
Ari Pekka Mähönen (PhD student, currently: Group Leader and Assistant Professor at the University of Helsinki, Finland)
Martin Bonke (PhD student, next position: Jussi Taipale Lab, University of Helsinki, Finland)