Research Groups

[Under Construction]

Board members
Student members
Associated postdocs

Primary supervisors of the Population Genetics Graduate School

Please see below for more information on individual groups

University of Oulu

University of Helsinki

University of Turku

MTT Agrifood Research Finland

  • Juha Kantanen

  • Alan Schulman (plant biotechnology)

  • Johanna Vilkki (animal breeding and biotechnology)

    Finnish Forest Research Institute

  • Katri Kärkkäinen (forest genetics)

    Finnish Environment Institute

  • Marja Ruohonen-Lehto

    Additional supervisors

  • Elja Arjas, University of Helsinki, biometry

  • Matti Karjalainen, Laboratory of forensic science, the National Bureau of Investigation

    Primary supervisors of the Population Genetics Graduate School

Elia Arjas

Jouni Aspi: Director, Natural History Museums, Department of Biology, Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland. Jouni.Aspi(at)oulu.fi http://cc.oulu.fi/~jaspi/

The research topic of the group is conservation genetics of large carnivores. The population sizes of the large carnivores have decreased dramatically during the last century almost everywhere. Population bottlenecks and population fragmentation may have decreased genetic variation and evolutionary potential of these species. The objectives of our research are to investigate within and between population genetic variation, effective population sizes, social structure and amount of inbreeding in large carnivores in these areas. In addition we are investigating the association between genetic diversity, gene expression and fitness characters of the studied individuals, and also possibility of adaptive variation in some candidate genes (especially in MHC). We are using both autosomal and Y-chromosomal microsatellites, and also mtDNA variation to investigate population structure and maternal and paternal gene flow in these species. Especially the use of non-invasive sampling in monitoring the populations of large carnivores will be evaluated during the study. We are also using ancient-DNA techniques to resolve the evolutionary history of our study species using museum and archaeological samples. Our study species have been brown bear, grey wolf, lynx, wolverine, red fox, raccoon dog and Indian tiger. More information on page: www.flcrp.org.

Jose Manuel Cano: http://www.helsinki.fi/biosci/egru/people/index.html

Jukka Corander: Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Helsinki, jukka.corander(at)helsinki.fi

The Bayesian Statistics Group (BSG) of prof. Jukka Corander develops methods for statistical population genetics and genomics, forensic statistics and does general theoretical research in machine learning and Bayesian computation. We also have active research collaborations with biologists, where primary focus is on general statistical inference about genetic population structures and evolutionary epidemiology related to bacteria and viruses. Our group has developed multiple software packages for analysis of genetic, genomic and protein data, for details see the BSG webpages at http://www.helsinki.fi/bsg/

Philipp Gienapp:

Anna Kuparinen

Juha Kantanen

Katri Kärkkäinen

Erica Leder

Jaakko Lumme. Lecturer in genetics, Department of Biology, Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland. Jaakko.Lumme(at)oulu.fi;  https://wiki.oulu.fi/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=14553495

Esa Läärä. Professor in statistics, especially biometry; Department of Mathematical Sciences, PO Box 3000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland; Esa.Laara(at)oulu.fi; http://math.oulu.fi/en/personnel/esalaara.html

Professor Esa Läärä's research area can broadly be characterized as development and creative application of statistics in health sciences and biology. Major research topics belong to epidemiology of cancers and prognosis of cancer patients (in collaboration with prof. Timo Hakulinen, Dr. Hyon-Jung Kim-Ollila, 4 postgraduate students). Research activities related to genetics include development of Bayesian methods in association mapping (in collaboration with prof. Outi Savolainen, Dr. Mikko Sillanpää, doctoral student Timo Knürr), effects of genetic and other risk factors on obesity during the life course (prof. Marjo-Riitta Järvelin, doctoral student Marika Kaakinen), and heredity of food allergies (prof. Simo Näyhä, doctoral student Kaisa Pyrhönen).

Kari Majamaa.  Professor in neurology, Department of Clinical Medicine, Box 5000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland. Kari.Majamaa(at)oulu.fi.  http://www.oulu.fi/medbioch/teammajamaa.htm.

Research of the Northern Mitochondria group is focused on genetic epidemiology of matrilineal diseases, molecular epidemiology of mitochondrial diseases and mitochondrial genomics. The group uses and develops methods of genetic epidemiology. Sequence data on entire human mitochondrial DNA have made it possible to develop mitochondrial genomics, to generate accurate phylogenies on human populations and to analyze disease-causing mutations or polymorphisms that increase the risk of disease in a population genetic setting. We attempt to combine expertise in medical genetics and population genetics within the research group. Ten doctoral theses have been completed in the project and currently seven students are pursuing their theses (3 in the Medicine program, 3 in the Biology program, 1 in the Biotechnology and molecular biology program).

Juha Merilä: Academy professor, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki. Juha.Merila@helsinki.fi http://www.helsinki.fi/biosci/egru/index.html

Research in the Ecological Genetics Research Unit (EGRU) focuses on research in the interface between ecology, genetics and physiology. One of the main themes in our research is to understand the interplay between ecology and inheritance in animal adaptation to their environments. We employ quantitative, population and molecular genetic (and genomic) approaches typically in evolutionary, but also in conservation context. Development of statistical methods to estimate population differentiation and genetic variability in quantitative traits are also in our agenda. The main models in our research are the three- and nine-spined sticklebacks, the Siberian jay, the Red-billed gull, common lizards and common frogs.

EGRU is part of the Centre of Excellency in Evolutionary Genetics and Physiology (2006-2011). There is currently 8 post-doctoral researchers, 6 graduate students, 2 technicians and one research assistant associated with the unit.

Päivi Onkamo

Jukka Palo: Director of Laboratory of Forensic Biology, Department of Forensic Medicine, Hjelt Institute, P.O.Box 40, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

The research conducted in the Laboratory of Forensic Biology (Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki) lies at the junction of basic research and applied (forensic) genetics. We are currently – with various methods - focusing on the peculiar genetic diversity patterns among the Finns, past and present. This helps us to understand the history of Finns, and simultaneously provides vital background knowledge for forensic genetic casework conducted in the laboratory. Personally I also retain my original interests in the population genetics and phylogeography of animal populations in Northern Europe.

Pekka Pamilo: Professor in population biology, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. Pekka.Pamilo(at)helsinki.fi, http://cc.oulu.fi/~genetwww/ants/

The work of the research group focuses on the evolution and genetics of social insects. Special interest is in the evolution of the ant genomes and the evolution of the social and genetic structure of ant societies. On-going projects deal with e.g. the evolution of immune defence, interaction between ants and their endosymbiotic bacteria, the effect of hybridisation on the differentiation of populations and speciation, and the evolution of polygyny and polyandry. The group works in the laboratory in the University of Oulu and has currently three doctoral students and one postdoc researcher. International research contacts are mainly with the universities of Lausanne, Regensburg and Sheffield.

Craig Primmer. Academy Professor, Department of Biology, 20014, University of Turku, Finland. craig.primmer(at)utu.fi. http://users.utu.fi/primmer/ and http://www.sci.utu.fi/biologia/tutkimus/projektit/genfys/PnP/Index.html

The group's research program aims to understand the genetic processes underlying adaptation in free-living populations and species. We also use the obtained knowledge as the basis for developing conservation and management guidelines that can be applied in a wide range of endangered and exploited populations and species. Studies can be grouped into three related themes: i) Local adaptation mechanisms, ii) human induced adaptation and iii) evolutionary immunogenetics. Research on these topics includes several study species and systems covering a range of ecosystems and geographic scales, including European grayling (Thymallus thymallus), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and Ficedula flycatchers.


Minna Ruokonen . Adjunct professor, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Biology, PO Box 3000, FIN-90014 University of Oulu, Finland, minna.ruokonen(at)oulu.fi, cc.oulu.fi/~mruokone, www.flcrp.org

Research by Minna Ruokonen is focused on conservation and population genetics of threatened species and domestication. Ruokonen is currently supervising six doctoral students together with collaborators in universities of Cornell, Aberdeen, Eastern Finland and Helsinki. Other collaborators include the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, WWF and Birdlife.

Antti Sajantila

Outi Savolainen. Professor in genetics. Department of Biology, Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland. Outi.Savolainen(at)oulu.fi https://wiki.oulu.fi/display/PGG/The+Plant+genetics+group

The plant genetics research group at the Department of Biology, University of Oulu uses molecular population genetics methods to examine the genetics of adaptation and speciation in plants. Specifically, we study the outcrossing relative of A. thaliana, Arabidopsis lyrata, the full genome of which has been just sequenced. The other research object is Pinus sylvestris, where we also examine adaptation, genetics of timing of growth and cold tolerance. Collaborations are with the University of Uppsala, the University of North Carolina, and in EU projects on tree genetics, e.g. INRA Bordeaux and INIA of Madrid.

Alan Schulman

Mikko J. Sillanpää. Professor in Genetics and Biometry, Department of Biology & Department of Mathematical Sciences, P.O.Box 3000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland. E-mail: mjs(at)rolf.helsinki.fi.

One of the main themes in the research group of Prof. Sillanpää is to develop computationally practical statistical methods to answer quantitative genetics and genomics questions. The group use Bayesian hierarchical modeling and consider settings with different genomic data types (i.e., marker-, gene- and protein-expression as well as sequence data). The area of interest includes development of new efficient methods for QTL- and association mapping as well as predicting genomic breeding values and phenotypic values. http://www.rni.helsinki.fi/~mjs/

Johanna Vilkki

Niklas Wahlberg. University Lecturer, Laboratory of Genetics, Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland.

The Nymphalidae Systematics Group (NSG) aims to contribute to the understanding of evolutionary processes that are involved in diversification of species. As a model group, Nymphalidae is of exceptional utility in studies of evolutionary processes. The uneven distribution of its ca. 6000 species on Earth as well as in evolutionary lineages allow comparisons of groups of species to identify similarities and differences in their evolutionary histories. The ecology of many species is also well-known, unlike in many other invertebrate groups. The NSG uses molecular systematic methods to study the processes of diversification, mainly by analysing sequence data from a number of nuclear protein-coding gene regions. More information can be found at http://nymphalidae.utu.fi





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Last modified: 11/05/11