Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

I was invited 1997 as professor in environmental biotechnology at the Department of Food and Environmental Sciences (until 31.12.2009 at the Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology), and in 2002 for another 5-year period, and to permanent position from 1.1.2008. The research group in October 2014 consists of the Principal Investigator (1), post doctorates (1), doctoral students (5), other researchers, undergraduate students, and trainees. Prof. Annele Hatakka and four university lecturers (Kristiina Hildén, Pauliina Lankinen, Taina Lundell, Kari Steffen) and the Academy Fellow (Jussi Heinonsalo) and their groups form the Fungal Biology and Biotechnology reserch unit and closely collaborated with each other. Hatakka’s group was in 2002-2007 a member of Center of Excellence “Microbial Resources Research Unit”, nominated by the Academy of Finland, A. Hatakka was the 2nd vice director of the unit. The group was a member of Center of Excellence “Microbial Resources Research Unit” (2002-07), A. Hatakka was the 2nd vice director of the unit.

 Before the professorship I have worked in different positions of the Academy of Finland for 24 years from 1972-1996, first at the Department of Microbiology, and from 1992 at the Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology. I worked 1.5 years as visiting scientist at STFI (The Swedish Forest Products Laboratory) in Stockholm, and shorter periods in UK and France. I was member of the government (senate, “konsistori”) of the University of Helsinki, 1992-1994, and the member of the Research Council for Biosciences and Environment, The Academy of Finland (2001-2003). I was also the vice director of the department in 2004-2006. I was a member of the board of EnSTe GS (Graduate School in Environmental Sciences and Technology) 2007-2014.

I had 112 journal articles and about 110 book chapters and congress proceedings articles, 4 patents, and I have presented about 60 oral presentations including several key note lectures, and participated congresses in about 30 countries. In 2014 my h-index was 32, the sum of cites is 3,607, and the most cited paper was an still is review Hatakka, A. 1994. FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 13:125-135, cited 540 times (15.10.2014, Web of Science). I have had extensive international cooperation, e.g. in EU project (2006-2010) Biorenew "White Biotechnology for added value products from renewable plant polymers” which had 26 partners. I have coordinated two INTAS projects, e.g. INTAS 03-51-5889 “Blue and non-blue laccases of basidiomycetes” (2004-2006). The other partners were from Italy and Russia (Prof. L. Golovleva, Pushchino), and we have cooperated with Prof. Golovleva in an Academy of Finland funded project (2008-2010). NICE (Nordic Innovation Center) funded a 3-year project LigniMatch (2007-2009) on Lignin as raw material for chemicals. I have cooperated with my former post doc Martin Hofrichter, presently professor in environmental biotechnology in IHIZ, Zittau, Germany, and we have about 20 joint referee publications. We have cooperated with Prof. Alexander Kapich, International Sakharov Environmental University, Minsk, Belarus. The group has every year visitors, students and trainees from Germany, Czech Republic, China, Spain etc.

I was responsible professor for the major topic Biotechnology, orientation Microbial and Environmental Biotechnology, and later also Food Biotechnology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, from 2004 until my retirement in 2016. See my attached CV for more detailed information on scientific, educational and administrative achievements, and also a short description on the development of biotechnology education in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, the founding of Helsinki Region Biotechnology Education Program (HEBIOT), M.Sc. Program in biotechnology (MBIOT) and the joint education in molecular biosciences.

My husband Pertti Hatakka (1944-2020) was agronomist and M.Sc. in plant husbandry, retired from The National Emergency Supply Agency (Huoltovarmuuskeskus). Our son Sampsa Hatakka defended his doctoral thesis in history and got his PhD degree from Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, in January 2020. He was funded for 3 years by the doctoral program for History and Cultural Heritage.



Description of research and teaching

The main research topics of our  Fungal biology and biotechnology research unit were the  degradation of lignin and lignocellulose by wood-rotting white-rot fungi and litter decomposing fungi and by their oxidative and hydrolytic enzymes. We also studied potential applications of these fungi and their lignin and cellulose degrading enzymes, e.g. in the pulp and paper industry and in the remediation of polluted soils and waste waters.

Lignocellulosic plant biomass (wood and straw) contains 20-30% lignin, which makes it the second most abundant renewable organic compound on Earth. Lignin is presently the most unexploited renewable natural material the significance of which certainly increases, because many feedstock now produced from petroleum oil could be produced from plant lignin.

In nature lignin is degraded mostly by basidiomycetous white-rot and litter-decomposing fungi. The lignin-modifying enzymes lignin peroxidases (LiPs), manganese peroxidases (MnPs) and versatile peroxidases (VPs) are peroxidases while laccases use molecular oxygen as oxidant. Laccase was discovered already in the 1880’s but still its role in lignin degradation is unclear. We have recently thoroughly studied the expression and properties of laccases and peroxidases by two model white-rot basidiomycetes (Phlebia radiata and Physisporinus rivulosus (syn. Obba rivulosa)). The genome of Obba rivulosa was sequenced in June 2014 and it was the first fungus isolated from Finland, the genome of which was sequenced. In spite of advances in molecular characterisation of fungal enzymes we still do not have all of the factors for to understand how lignin is degraded in nature.

As an important microbial resource we have a large culture collection (Fungal Biotechnology Culture Collection FBCC) of about 2200 fungi, mainly basidiomycetes but also many hundreds ascomycetes recently isolated from agricultural fields. I was the Director of HAMBI Microbial Culture Collection from the autumn 2014 until 2016 and after that vice director.

Utilization of the whole plant biomass in biorefineries especially for fuel and feedstock chemicals is under an extensive investigation all over the world. Enzyme and fungi can be used to treat wood chips prior to pulping in a process called biopulping, and they can be used to bleach paper pulp in a process called biobleaching. These fungi and their enzymes can also be used to remove e.g. polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), chlorinated compounds and hormone disrupting compounds such as bisphenol A, in a process called bioremediation. These biotechnological processes belong to industrial or white biotechnology, and fungi and their enzymes provide the basic biotechnical tools for this work.

Some of projects were

  1. Characterization of oxidoreductases (peroxidases and laccases) from lignin- and litter-degrading basidiomycetes in the EU project Biorenew ( (2006-2010)
  2. Cellulases and hemicellulases of fungi in the EU project NEMO (Novel high performance enzymes and  micro-organisms for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol, 2009-2013) (with Prof. Liisa Viikari, Division of Chemistry and Biochemistry). (
  3. Studies on fungal  oxidoreductases and natural type mediators in conversion of lignocellulose and lignin, funded by The Academy of Finland (2010-2012) together with Doc. Jussi Sipilä, Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, University of Helsinki, and Doc. Taina Lundell (Division of Microbiology).
  4. Fungi in white biotechnology: Expression of novel lignocellulose degrading enzymes (Marie Curie reintegration funding PERG08-GA-2010-276794-FunBio) (2011-2012), to Dr. Kristiina Hildén
  5. Removal of endocrine disrupters from waste waters using fungal oxidative enzymes (Ph.D.       project of Grit Kabiersch, EnSTe doctoral programme position)
  6. Bioremediation of contaminated soil fungi (PIMA-FUN) (The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) research program SYMBIO (coordinator Dr. Marja Tuomela)
  7. Inulin degrading fungi and characterization of inulinases (Ph.D. project of Sadegh Mansouri)
  8. Lignocellulose degradation by ascomycetes fungi isolated from agricultural fields (Dr. Pauliina Lankinen)
  9. Doctoral thesis project of Johanna Rytioja on cellulolytic enzymes and their applications
  10. SUBICAT (Sustainable biomass conversions by highly efficient catalytic processes) (Marie Curie ITN -project nr. 607044, FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN Marie Curie Actions – Initial Training Networks (ITN), Multi-partner ITNs) 48 months (Kristiina Hildén as responsible scientist at UH)
  11. OPTIBIOCAT (Optimized esterase biocatalysts for cost-effective industrial production).  EU project nr 613868. Optimal and cost-effective industrial biocatalysts Project start date: [2013-12-01] (Kristiina Hildén as responsible scientist and WP leader at UH)

Teaching and administration

I was Professor in Environmental Biotechnology, University of Helsinki from 1997, invited two times for 5 year periods and then invited and nominated to permanent position from 01.01.2008. I was responsible professor for the major topic Biotechnology, orientation Microbial and Environmental Biotechnology, and later also Food Biotechnology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, from 2004 until my retirement in 2016. The other teachers in biotechnology at the Division of Microbiology and Biotechnology are university lecturers Pauliina Lankinen (biotechnology) and Kristiina Hildén (microbial biotechnology).

We had at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry since 2004 a major topic, biotechnology, which was jointly arranged by three departments. I was 2004-2011 the chairperson of the board for the biotechnology major of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. This education belonged 2004-2010 to the Helsinki region biotechnology education program (HEBIOT). From the autumn 2011 the new students were taken to the biotechnology major at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. We had also Master’s Programme in Biotechnology (MBIOT). There were also 15 registered doctoral students in biotechnology on the orientation of microbial and environmental biotechnology. Until 2016 I was chairperson ("Custos") in 9 dissertations in biotechnology.  


Lectures and seminars (in Finnish) at Bachelor’s and Master’s level

  • YBIOT315 Microbial biotechnology (5 cr), next time autumn 2014, 2nd period
  • YBIOT525 Fungal biotechnology and biotechnology of renewable natural resources (5 cr), every spring, 4th period

Doctoral education

  • Member of the board of EnSTe (Graduate School in Environmental Sciences and Technology doctoral programme) 2007-2014.
  • Supervisor of the Doctoral Programme in Microbiology and Biotechnology MBDP (2014-)
  • Supervision or co-supervision of 12 doctoral theses



Fields of Science

  • 411 Agriculture and forestry
  • Lignocellulose biodegradation
  • 118 Biological sciences
  • Microbiology
  • Mycology