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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

For almost 30 years, water flow into and out of a cell has been known to be regulated by channel proteins called aquaporins. Because the H2O molecule is forced to cross membranes at certain points on its way from the roots to the leaves, aquaporins are believed to be the main regulators of water flow. Furthermore, even though quite simple in structure, aquaporins come in a variety of different isoforms, each specific to certain membranes. While a lot of research has focused on their structure and function, unfortunately not much is presently known about how these channel proteins control water movements within an entire plant.

          To make matters more complex, the different isoforms are expressed in different tissues, have varying substrate permeabilities, and may interact with each other within the membrane. Thus, our understanding of the concept of whole plant water balance is still quite incomplete. My goal is to find out how water molecules are guided along their way through the plant and to eventually use this knowledge to improve plant productivity.


My main aims using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana are:

  1. Characterising the role of aquaporins expressed in the plasma membrane on the level of the entire plant.
  2. Identifying the influence of aquaporin expression on photosynthesis, water use efficiency, water uptake and root system architecture.
  3. Further clarify the function of the carbon dioxide conducting PIP1;2 isoform on the level of the whole plant.
  4. Creating more efficient and/or more productive plants by manipulating aquaporin expression through genetic or environmental means.

Curriculum vitae

David Israel


Main interests:

1)    Plant physiology   2) Aquaporins   3) Green roofs and walls   4) Permaculture



9/2008 –               Master of Science in Plant Biology

3/2015                 Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

Master’s project in the field of aquaporin ecophysiology (grade: magna cum laude approbatur)

Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology (2012)

8/2004 – 6/2007   A-levels with AICE Diploma, YO Diploma

                            Kulosaari Upper Secondary School, Helsinki, Finland


Current Positions

10/2015 –             PhD Student

present                Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Viikki Plant Science Centre, University of Helsinki, Finland

                            My work aims at determining the function of the plasma membrane aquaporins in regulating water flow in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. In order to find out how aquaporins control water flow through the plant, I mostly employ ecophysiological techniques such as gas exchange measurements.

5/2015 -               Tour Guide and Substitute Teacher

present                Korkeasaaren eläintarha (Zoo of Helsinki)

The tour guide’s tasks are centred around providing customer experiences such as 90 min tours and short presentations during animal feeding times, but also include developing and implementation of seasonal programme and events. I also work at our zoo school substituting and supporting the main teacher.

1/2014 -               Language Editor

present                Leśne Prace Badawcze (Journal of the Forest Research Institute,

                            Sękocin Stary, Poland)

The articles in this journal cover a diverse range of topics related to forestry in Poland and are written in Polish. Abstracts for each publication are also provided in English.

1/2013 -               Course Instructor, lecturer

present                Faculty of Biosciences & Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Finland

Practical Course in Plant Anatomy and Physiology (Bachelor’s/Master’s level, lab training, taught in Finnish)

Wood Structure, Growth and Differentiation (Master’s level, microscopy and species identification , taught in English)

Plant Physiology lecture series (Bachelor’s level, taught in Finnish)


Work Experience

1/2019                 Consultant

                            iLi Consulting Engineers Mekong Ltd., Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For developing 200 ha of depleted forest into agricultural land, I was asked to evaluate site hydrology and soil composition for the suitability of Cashew (Anarcadium occidentale) production.

1 – 4/2018            Visiting Researcher

Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Canada

Using a hydroponic set up, I investigated the role of aquaporins in conducting hydrogen peroxide.

10 – 12/2015        Visiting Researcher

                            School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia

During this visit, I was introduced to advanced methodology in plant ecophysiology using the LICOR6400XT gas exchange system and applied the new techniques in a three-month experiment.

12/2014 – 4/2015  Research Assistant

Canopy Spectral Ecology and Ecophysiology (CanSEE) group, Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

I helped to design and manage an experiment investigating the response of Arabidopsis thaliana to different light qualities.

3 – 8/2014            Research Assistant

Sensory and Phyisological Ecology of Plants (SenPEP) group, Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

As part of a larger study, I carried out preliminary test to aid in the design of a project investigating the action spectrum of photo-morphogenic responses to UV radiation.

11 – 12/2013        Research Assistant

                            Ivy (Hedera helix) growth response to contrasting UV-environments

Canopy Spectral Ecology and Ecophysiology (CanSEE) group, Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

I helped to manage as well as carry out measurements for an experiment with ivy (Hedera helix) exposed to contrasting UV-environments.

7/2010                 Research Assistant (Beech Ecophysiology)

                            Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

I helped to manage as well as carry out measurements for an experiment on beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Notofagus antarctica seedlings under different light and moisture conditions.

8/2008 – 1/2014,  Terminal worker, Substitute Lead Sorter and Facility Security          

6 – 9/2015            Coordinator

                            United Parcel Service Finland Oy, Vantaa, Finland

My responsibilities as a terminal worker were to sort, scan and load packages into containers. In my capacity as a lead sorter, I managed a team of 10 terminal workers to ensure a continuous workflow and coordinated the work in our terminal with the division located at the airport. As facility security coordinator, I enforced correct safety procedures for all packages delivered by air mail, did regular auditions for our security staff and filed daily performance reports.

9/2007 – 5/2008   Non-military Service

                            Jugendkulturzentrum Gladhouse, Cottbus, Germany

My main tasks included equipment maintenance, preparing events and tending to the facility grounds.


Project management

10/2015 –             PhD Student

present                Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Viikki Plant Science Centre, University of Helsinki, Finland

For my PhD project, I am solely responsible for drafting schedules, setting up and managing experiments as well as coordinating with other group members and collaborators. As a self-funded student, I also apply for funds and manage the project finances by myself.


Volunteer work

8/2018 –               Environmental Committee at the University of Helsinki

12/2020                As a member of the committee, I am involved in planning and preparing events and campaigns that are aimed to implement concrete changes at the university, but also raise environmental awareness on a broader scale.


5/2017 –               HOAS (Student Housing) Tenant Committee

4/2020                  The committee is meant as a support for tenants giving advice, solving problems and managing keys as well as garden plots. We also manage a budget of 5500€/year to be spend on maintaining and improving the property and surroundings as well as maintaining common spaces. My personal responsibility are the garden plots, assigning them to tenants, maintaining the grounds and organising regular info sessions.


Language Skills

German               mother tongue

English                 fluent

Finnish                 spoken – fluent

                            written – good/fluent




Microsoft Office



Davinci Resolve 15

Adobe Premier Pro CC

R and RStudio








Soil moisture probes

Light microscopes


Vaisala CO2 probe

Dualex and Spad



Advanced gas exchange

Preparing solutions

RNA and DNA extraction

PCR and qPCR

Gel electrophoresis

TLC chromatography


Grants and Awards

2/2020        Grant for PhD project on “Aquaporins and the water household of a plant”

                  28500€ (Finnish Cultural Foundation)

6/2019        Grant for covering material costs

                  2000€ (Oskar Öflund Stiftelse)

2/2018        Grant for PhD project on “Aquaporins and the water household of a plant”

                  24000€ (Finnish Cultural Foundation)

10/2017      Chancellor’s Travel grant for research visit to the University of Alberta, Canada

                  3200€ (University of Helsinki)

3/2016        Chancellor’s Travel grant for attending the PEPG Field Techniques Workshop in Lisbon, Portugal

                  700€ (University of Helsinki)

2/2016        Grant for PhD project on “The role of aquaporins in plant water regulation”

                  32000€ (Finnish Cultural Foundation)

10/2015      Chancellor’s Travel grant for research visit to the University of Sydney, Australia

                  3000€ (University of Helsinki)

5/2013        10th Finnish Plant Science Days (poster award 4th place), Helsinki



manuscript           A study case of local adaptation and drought on a northern plant meta-

stage                   population.

                           Ana L. Salgado, Aapo Kahilainen, David Israel, Marjo Saastamoinen

1/2021                 The contribution of PIP2-type aquaporins to plant water relations in

re-submitted         response to low air humidity.

                            David Israel, Shandjita Khan, Charles R. Warren, Janusz J. Zwiazek, T. Matthew Robson 

Reviewed and rejected by Plant Physiology (11/2019). Reviewed and rejected with invitation to resubmit by Journal of Experimental Botany (9/2020).

7/2020                 Seedlings from marginal and core populations of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) respond differently to imposed drought and shade

                            Fang Wang, David Israel, José-Alberto Ramírez-Valiente, David Sánchez-Gómez, Ismael Aranda, Pedro J. Aphalo, T. Matthew Robson

4/2014                 A foot in both camps - how does ivy optimise foraging when faced with contrasting UV-environments.

                  T. Matthew Robson, Saara Hartikainen, David Israel, Paula Salonen, Jakub Nezval

                  Conference Abstract for UV-B Radiation: A Specific Regulator of Plant Growth and Food Quality in a Changing Climate, Bled, Slovenia


Presentation and Conferences

11/2019      International Conference: Plants in a Changing World – Integration of Photosynthesis, Adaptation and Development, Helsinki, Finland

                  (poster presentation)

6/2018        International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, Turku, Finland

                  (poster presentation) 

5/2018        Environmental Social Sciences Graduate Seminar (oral presentation), Helsinki, Finland

4/2018        Department of Renewable Resources Research Group Meeting (oral presentation) Edmonton, Canada

2/2018        Department of Renewable Resources Journal Club (oral and article presentation), Edmonton, Canada 

10/2017      Viikki Plant Science Centre, Science Fair (oral and poster presentation), Helsinki, Finland

6/2017        World Green Infrastructure Congress, Berlin, Germany

8/2016        Building Green in Cities Symposium, Helsinki, Finland

5/2016        Plant Club Seminar Series (oral presentation), Helsinki, Finland

3/2016        Plant Biology Graduate Seminar (oral presentation), Helsinki, Finland

3/2014        Spring Symposium (poster presentation), Helsinki, Finland

1/2014        Plant Club Seminar Series (oral presentation), Helsinki, Finland

5/2013        Plant Biology Undergraduate Seminar (oral presentation), Helsinki, Finland

5/2013        10th Finnish Plant Science Days (poster presentation), Helsinki, Finland


International Courses and Diplomas

5/2020        Renewed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate Diploma

5/2018        LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate Diploma

9/2016        PEPG Field Techniques Workshop, Lisbon, Portugal

2/2014        COST UV4growth statistics school, Helsinki, Finland


Last updated: 6.1.2021

Education/Academic qualification

Plant Biology, Master of Science, University of Helsinki

Award Date: 18 Mar 2015

External positions

Language Editor, Forest Reserch Institute

1 Jan 2014 → …

Fields of Science

  • 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
  • Aquaporins
  • PIP
  • gas exchange
  • anatomy
  • ecophysiology
  • membrane channels

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.
  • DPPS Travel grant

    Israel, David (Recipient), Sep 2015

    Prize: Prizes and awards

  • DPPS Travel grant

    Israel, David (Recipient), 18 Sep 2017

    Prize: Prizes and awards

  • Travel Grant

    Israel, David (Recipient), May 2016

    Prize: Prizes and awards