Areas of expertise
I studied biochemistry, genetics and plant physiology at the University of Turku in 1975-1982 and obtained the PhD in plant physiology in 1989. I did part of my doctoral studies in in Rothamsted Experimental Station, U.K. in 1985-1986, worked as a junior researcher of the Academy of Finland in 1987-1989, as a visiting researcher at the Stockholm University in 1996-1997, and as a guest professor at the University of Gothenburg in 2013. I have been an acting professor in Plant Physiology in 1998-2006, professor in Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology in 2006-2011, and professor in Molecular Plant Biology at the University of Turku since 2011. For the years 2001-2006 I was a Member of the Research Council for Biosciences and Environment of the Academy of Finland. I have been a Vice Director of the Department of Biology in 2007-2009 and a Vice Director of the Department of Biochemistry at University of Turku since 2012. I am also a Director of Doctoral Program in Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Turku since 2015 and a member of the Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology of Primary Producers, the Academy of Finland in 2014-2019.
I have extensive and long teaching experience in plant science since 1982. I have given lectures and run courses (basic, medium and advance level) in plant physiology, plant genetics and biotechnology, plant development, plant biochemistry and molecular biology, and specific courses in photosynthesis. Since 1999 I have been a responsible professor for the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree study program in Plant Physiology (Molecular Plant Biology since 2010), since 2013 a Research director of doctoral candidates in Molecular Plant Biology, and involved in the development teaching programs in the faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (the faculty of Science and Engineering since 2018.-) at the University of Turku.
Plants are ultimate harvesters of sunlight, the growth and development of which largely depend on abiotic and biotic environmental factors. Light is the most important factor influencing both energy metabolism and developmental processes of the photoautotrophic organisms. Plants have adopted efficient mechanisms to sense changes of light conditions and to induce adaptive processes in order to cope with environmental stresses and to raise plant fitness in natural growth conditions. Apart from the basic task in photosynthetic energy metabolism, chloroplasts are also the place for a numerous metabolic reactions including nitrogen and sulphur assimilation, biosynthesis of amino acids, lipids, hormones, cofactors and secondary metabolites that directly affect plant growth capacity. Redox signals are crucial in the control of these chloroplast functions. My project addresses to systemic analysis of chloroplast redox networks with specific focus on the plastidial members of thioredoxin protein family, and to molecular dissection of their function in plant development, control of chloroplast metabolism, determination of biomass yield and in relation to plant fitness. The aim of my research project is to discover the molecular mechanisms which are involved in the regulation of photosynthetic reactions under naturally fluctuating environmental conditions. The main goal is to identify the components, the modifications of which increase photosynthetic efficiency and thus productivity of plants and photosynthetic microbes.