Péter Poczai
  • Viikinkaari 1, Biokeskus 3

    00790 Helsinki


  • Viikinkaari 1, Biocentre 3

    00790 Helsinki



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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Doctor of Plant Health (MSc), Doctor of Plant Genetics (PhD), Docent (Plant Systematics and Evolution), Habilitation (Biological Sciences)

The Museomics Research Group located in the Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden of the Finnish Museum of Natural History (LUOMUS) also part of the Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS) employs cutting-edge high-throughput sequencing technologies to investigate complex evolutionary processes that underpin biodiversity. Based on historical DNA we employ phylogenomics and population genomics to non-model species of plants, lichens, and fungi, as well as their microbial communities. We trace these events in both space and time by using genetic material from museum collections. We also investigate our research results from an interdisciplinary perspective focusing on unique links from the past based on handwritten and printed archival records using deep learning algorithms that are particularly relevant for scientific outreach and higher education.

Current research: Tackling the loss of biodiversity to sustain ecosystem services needs technological advances accompanied by societal changes to better manage our natural capital before unexpected impacts start snowballing into destructive consequences. Humans have altered global ecosystems during the last centuries. With their temporal dimension, herbaria and their microbial communities supply the otherwise sparse long-term data necessary for monitoring ecological and evolutionary changes at this age of rapid global change. The sheer size of herbaria, combined with their increasing digitization and the ability to extract historical DNA from the preserved biological collections, renders them invaluable resources for understanding ecological and evolutionary responses to global environmental change and allows inferring these responses in deep time. Our current research has two main directions: 1) we highlight how biological collections can inform about long-term effects on plants, lichens, fungi and their microbial communities (hologenomics) of at least four of the main drivers of global change: pollution, habitat change, climate change and invasive species. 2) we interpret collection as ‘windows into the past’ to study and test key hypotheses about the evolution and dispersal of plants using large-scale data sets obtained through state-of-the-art museomics. We synthesize this information from deep time phylogenies to elucidate major evolutionary transitions, e.g., transition to land, endosymbiosis and their genomic impacts on plant biodiversity.


Education/Academic qualification

Plant Systematics and Evolution, Docent (Associate Professor), Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Award Date: 11 Jan 2021

External positions

OECD CRP Research Fellow, Radboud University, Netherlands

15 Jan 201928 Jun 2019

Scientific Authority (Plants), CITES

1 Sept 2014 → …

Fields of Science

  • 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
  • Plant Systematics
  • Phylogenetics
  • Solanaceae
  • Taxonomy
  • Phylogenomics
  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • Biogeography
  • Genomics
  • 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
  • Chloroplasts
  • Plastid Genomics
  • comparative genomics
  • 4111 Agronomy
  • crop wild relatives
  • Genetics Resources
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Orphan Crops
  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • History of Science; Roma and Travellers; Holocaust- and Genocide Studies; Memory Studies
  • History of Genetics
  • Philosophy of Sciences
  • Philosophy of Biology

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.