Saijaliisa Kangasjärvi profile picture
Docent, Department of Biology


+358 29 450 4204
+358 50 430 4639
Itäinen Pitkäkatu 4 C

Areas of expertise

Plant stress responses
organelle biology
light signalling
regulatory networks
plant metabolism


I  worked as a senior lecturer in the Molecular Plant Biology unit at the Department of Biochemistry  2014-2020. In September 2020 I was appointed as Associate Professor in Translational Plant Science at the University of Helsinki. In parallel to my teaching activities, I  also run a research program entitled “Cross-talk between light acclimation and defence reactions in plants“.  This research was first promoted by a research grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 2008 and by an Academy Research Fellowship for 2009-2014.  I was also affiliated as a PI in the Center of Excellence “Moloecular Biology of Primary Producers”, 2014-2019. At the University of Turku, my  main emphasis was on metabolic regulation in plant immunity, which is funded by an Academy of Finland research grant for 2017-2021. My activities also include participation in scientific congresses, international evaluation panels and PhD committees, and organisation of international scientific meetings. In addition, I am a member in the council for Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society (SPPS) and in the Biocity Turku research programme “Advanced Bioresources and Smart Bioproducts - Towards Sustainable Bioeconomy”.


My research and teaching post included basic degree education as well as supervision of research projects and training of Finnish and international post-docs, PhD students and Master’s students, as well as trainees from the polytechnics. In basic degree education, I acted as a personal teacher tutor for biochemistry students, whose studies and personal development I supported by meeting and discussing in person. My contact teaching hours included basic and advanced lectures in molecular plant biology as well as practical courses in molecular biology and proteomics. In doctoral training, I participated in teaching of transferrable skills on courses organized by the University of Turku Doctoral Programme.


My research focuses on stress resistance in plants. Ensuring nutritional security for the urbanizing world population will depend on the availability of disease-resistant crops with high post-harvest quality and yield. Plant resistance to environmental stress relies on mechanisms that sense, signal and respond to external cues, but the molecular mechanisms that execute appropriate defensive measures are not yet fully understood. During evolution, plants have evolved an amazing diversity of species-specific chemical defences, which can protect photosynthetic tissues against light-induced damage or prevent pathogens and pests from colonizing host plant tissues. Such plant-derived natural compounds also offer significant medicinal, health-promoting and sensory properties for mankind. The overall aim of our research is to elucidate regulatory networks underlying stress resistance in plants. Special attention is paid for light-dependent regulation of defensive measures, notably the formation of deterring secondary metabolites and their applicability in nutrition and medicine.


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PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 2A-B'γ controls Botrytis cinerea resistance and developmental leaf senescence (2020)

Plant Physiology
Guido Durian, Verena Jeschke, Moona Rahikainen, Katariina Vuorinen, Peter J Gollan, Mikael Brosche, Jarkko Salojärvi, Erich Glawischnig, Zsófia Winter, Shengchun Li, Graham Noctor, Eva-Mari Aro, Jaakko Kangasjärvi, Kirk Overmyer, Meike Burow, Saijaliisa Kangasjärvi
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))

On the roots of nitrogen uptake (2020)

New Phytologist
Moona Rahikainen, Saijaliisa Kangasjärvi
(Kirjoitus tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (B1))