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Personlig profil

Information om forskning och undervisning

My major research interest is the carbon and nitrogen cycling in boreal forest soil and the role of mycorrhizal fungi in belowground C and N dynamics. The species richness and functional diversity as well as the interactions of ectomycorrhizal and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi are the focus of my current research projects.  In addition, I am interested in how belowground processes are linked to gas fluxes from soil and to atmospheric chemistry.

See details of current projects in the site

Running research activities

  • The interactions between trees and ground vegetation for organic nitrogen uptake via ericoid and ectomycorrhizal fungi (NITROFUNGI).   The aim of the project (2012-2017) is to investigate how changes in climatic conditions affect carbon (C) storage ability of the boreal forest soils. It has been shown that nitrogen (N) has a key role in the decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) because the need for N partly controls SOM decomposition. Fungi are important decomposers of SOM and some fungi form symbiosis with forest trees and shrubs. The interaction between SOM decomposition, soil organic N uptake, symbiotic fungi and forest plants will be studied using modern methods from stable isotopes and radiocarbon dating to molecular biology. The results improve our knowledge on the effect of climate change on soil C and N storage pools, and provide data to improve ecosystem-scale models used to predict forest growth in the changing climate.
  • The interactions between soil fungal communities and soil organic nitrogen (SON) transformation in boreal forests- the effects of season, geographical location and natural disturbances (PYROFUNGI). The main aim of the project (2013-2015) is to identify for the first time the fungal community structure and some of their functions in three main ecosystem stations in Finland. We will connect NGS sequence data (454 pyrosequencing) to organic nitrogen decomposition from several aspects: spatio-temporal dynamics and disturbances in forest ecosystem (fire and reindeer husbandry).
  • Revealing sources of biological methane production in boreal upland forests (METAFOR). The aim of the project (2014-2016) is to quantify the biological sources of CH4 in an upland boreal forest ecosystem, and to identify the microbes, CH4 producing methanogens, involved in the CH4 exchange in each of the compartments: soil, ground vegetation and trees. In order to quantify the contribution of each compartment to the net ecosystem CH4 exchange, the CH4 emission rates from the forest-floor, tree-trunks or the canopy (branches), will be integrated to represent the fluxes over a large forest area. The information of the microbial community structure and the presence of methanogens will be used to further understand the biological mechanisms and the players in the CH4 production. Project leader Doc. Mari Pihlatie.
  • Decomposition of different fractions of soil organic matter in boreal forest soil; effect of fast cycling carbon and nitrogen on the decomposition of old soil organic matter (FASTCARBON). In this project (2010-2014) the aim is to study organic matter degradation using stable isotope techniques and to determine what is the age of carbon respired after priming by simple sugars. The adding is done either directly as glucose or by Scots pine plant as a natural mixture of recent photosynthates. Experiments to better understand the priming effect are in progress. Project leader Doc. Jukka Pumpanen.



Earlier research topics

  • The cryopreservation of ectomycorrhizal fungi. The MSc project of Ulla Mikkola started in September 2010. The aim of the project is to study how ectomycorrhizal fungi tolerate cryopreservation (-196°C) and whether the survived strains have the same functional properties before and after cryopreservation. Mycorrhiza formation, enzyme production and growth patterns are used as indirect methods to test the functionality. Cryopreservation would greatly facilitate the storage of strains in large culture collections (like FBCC in University of Helsinki) and would allow infinite storage periods.
  • BVOC production by soil fungi. The project is done in collaboration with e.g. dos. Jaana Bäck and MSc. Hermanni Aaltonen (University of Helsinki). Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are shown to be important for atmosphere chemistry and cloud formation. Boreal forest are shown to produce significant amounts of BVOCs that consist of numerous organic compuons. The aim of the project is to experimentally test whether soil fungi produce BVOCs, what compounds are produced and  how mycorrhizal symbiosis affect tree roots BVOC production. The first paper of the project was published in 2010 (Bäck et al. 2010).
  • Tree root and mycorrhizal associated archaeal communities. The project is done in collaboration with Dr. Malin Bomberg (VTT, Finland). Archaea are a group of micro-organisms that are not well know but do have a contribution to e.g. global methane cycling. However, the significance of this contribution is largely not quantified. In the project, the archaeal community structure in different tree species and different temperatures was determined. The manuscript is submitted November 2010.
  • Evaluating the role of shiro formation of Tricholoma matsutake in natural stand of Pinus sylvestris. The project is lead by Dr. Lu-Min Vaario and other collaborators are Drs. Taina Pennanen, Tytti Sarjala and MSc. Eira-Maija Savonen, all from Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA). My major contribution to the project is the enzyme analysis that are performed from field soil, ectomycorrhiza and bark samples.
  • Bioactive compounds for drug discovery. This project was started in late 2005 as part of my post-doctoral project in collaboration with Viikki Drug Discovery Center ( and with professors Pia Vuorela, Annele Hatakka and MSc. Päivi Järvinen. Since then I have grown and extracted fungal strains in controlled axenic conditions before filtration and extraction of the growth media. The extract are analysed in the drug discovery center to find interesting novel bioactive compounds.
  • The effects of ectomycorrhizal fungi on carbon balance of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings. The project was started in collaboration with professor Hannu Ilvesniemi (Finnish Forest Research Institute, METLA) and his project ‘Role of older humus and rhizobial exudates in the C-balance of boreal forest soils: Impact of clear-cutting, forest regeneration and tree species' funded by the Academy of Finland. There are experimentation going on related to this topic.
  • Quorum sensing inhibition by root associated fungi. This collaborative project was done together with Dr. Stephane Uroz from INRA in Nancy, France. The aim of the project was to see whether root-associated fungi can produce bioactive compounds that may affect bacterial quorum sensing. Quorum sensing is an important function in bacterial communities that partly regulates bacterial community responses. See the publication Uroz and Heinonsalo, 2008.
  • The interactions of ectomycorrhizal and litter-decomposing fungi. The project was done in collaboration with PhD Kari Steffen (link at the University of Helsinki (postdoctoral project of  the Academy of Finland called ‘Comparative evaluation of degradative activities in litter-decomposing and facultative mycorrhiza-forming fungi’), prof. Martin Hofrichter (International Graduate School Zittau, Germany) and doc. Maarit Niemi (Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland). A manuscript on a novel enzyme analysis method is in preparation from this project.
  • Biodiversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi. I did my PhD thesis under supervision of doc. Robin Sen with a title ‘The effects of Forestry Practices on Ectomycorrhizal Fungal Communities and Seedling Establishment’. The project was part of Academy of Finland’s FIBRE project ( Thesis can be found as pdf in
  • Bioremediation or hydrocarbon contaminated soil by ectomycorrhizal fungi. I did my MSc. thesis in the bioremediation project. The results were published under title ‘Effects of ectomycorrhizal fungi and associated bacteria on hydrocarbon oxidation in forest and petroleum-contaminated soils’. See Heinonsalo et al. (2000).


Team members

Dos. Mari Pihlatie, University of Helsinki, Finland

Dr. Hui Sun, (post doctoral scientist), University of Helsinki, Finland

Antti-Jussi Kieloaho (PhD student together with dos. Mari Pihlatie), University of Helsinki, Finland

Minna Santalahti (PhD student), University of Helsinki, Finland


Past team members

Aki Linden (PhD student together with dos. Jukka Pumpanen), University of Helsinki, Finland

Maëlle Durant, trainee, Université Claire Pascale, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2013)

Cecile Pimbert, trainee, Université Claire Pascale, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2012)

Kirsi Bäcklund (MSc. student),  University of Helsinki (2011)

Ulla Mikkola (MSc. student), University of Helsinki

Julie Villemot, MSc student, Université d’Angers, France (2008)

Edith Patissier, trainee, Université Claire Pascale, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2010)

Melanié Jonniaux, trainee, Université Claire Pascale, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2010)




Dos. Jukka Pumpanen, University of Helsinki

Maria Dominguez, MSc., University of Helsinki

Prof. Marja-Liisa Riekkola, University of Helsinki

Dr. Jevgeni Parshitsev, University of Helsinki

Prof. Andreas Richter, University of Vienna, Austria

Dr. Vesa Palonen, University of Helsinki

Dr. Eloni Sonninen, Natural History Museum, University of Helsinki

Prof Hannu Ilvesniemi, Finnish Forest Research Institute

Dos. Taina Pennanen (FM Sannakajsa Nylund), Finnish Forest Research Institute

Dr. Lu-Min Vaario, Finnish Forest Research Institute

Dos. Hannu Fritze, Finnish Forest Research Institute

Dos. Maarit Niemi, Finnish Environment Institute

Dos. Kari Steffen, University of Helsinki

Dos. Sari Timonen, University of Helsinki

MSc. Pekka Oivanen, University of Helsinki

Dr. Marc Buée, INRA-Nancy, France

Dr. Jean Garbaye, INRA-Nancy, France

Prof. Jaana Bäck, University of Helsinki

Dr. Hermanni Aaltonen, University of Helsinki

Dr. Malin Bomberg, VTT, Finland

Utbildning / akademisk kvalifikation

Microbiology, Docent (Adjunct professor)


  • 415 Övriga jordbruksvetenskaper
  • 117 Geografi och miljövetenskaper
  • 219 Miljöbioteknologi
  • 4111 Jordbruksvetenskap
  • 4112 Skogsvetenskap
  • 1183 Växtbiologi, mikrobiologi, virologi
  • 1172 Miljövetenskap

Internationellt och inhemskt samarbete Publikationer och projekt inom de senaste fem åren.

Publikationer 2000 2019

Interaction between tannins and fungal necromass stabilizes fungal residues in boreal forest soils

Adamczyk, B., Sietio, O-M., Biasi, C. & Heinonsalo, J., jul 2019, I : New Phytologist. 223, 1, s. 16-21 6 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskaplig

The impact of wildfire on microbial C:N:P stoichiometry and the fungal-to-bacterial ratio in permafrost soil

Zhou, X., Sun, H., Pumpanen, J., Sietiö, O-M., Heinonsalo, J., Köster, K. & Berninger, F., jan 2019, I : Biogeochemistry. 142, 1, s. 1-17 17 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Öppen tillgång

Contrasting effects of reindeer grazing on CO2, CH4, and N2O fluxes originating from the northern boreal forest floor

Koster, K., Koster, E., Berninger, F., Heinonsalo, J. & Pumpanen, J., feb 2018, I : Land Degradation and Development. 29, 2, s. 374-381 8 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Deforested and drained tropical peatland sites show poorer peat substrate quality and lower microbial biomass and activity than unmanaged swamp forest

Könönen, M., Jauhiainen, J., Straková, P., Heinonsalo, J., Laiho, R., Kusin, K., Limin, S. & Vasander, H., aug 2018, I : Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 123, s. 229-241 13 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Effects of biochar on carbon and nitrogen fluxes in boreal forest soil

Palviainen, M., Berninger, F., Bruckman, V. J., Köster, K., de Assumpcao, C. R. M., Aaltonen, H., Makita, N., Mishra, A., Kulmala, L., Adamczyk, B., Zhou, X., Heinonsalo, J., Köster, E. & Pumpanen, J., apr 2018, I : Plant and Soil. 425, 1-2, s. 71-85 15 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Projekter 2012 2018

Aktiviteter 1999 2018

Maaperän mikrobiologia ja Hiilen varastoitumisen prosessit

Jussi Heinonsalo (!!Speaker)
8 nov 2018

Aktivitet: Typer för tal eller presentation!!Invited talk

Maaperän mikrobiologia ja Hiilen varastoitumisen prosessit

Jussi Heinonsalo (!!Speaker)
27 jun 2018

Aktivitet: Typer för tal eller presentation!!Invited talk

Mari Märi

Jussi Heinonsalo (Bihandledare)

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperHandledare eller bihandledare av doktorsavhandling

3rd International Conference of Ecology of Soil Microorganisms

Jussi Heinonsalo (Medlem i organisationskommitté)
1 jan 201821 jun 2018

Aktivitet: Typer för deltagande i eller organisering av evenemangArrangemang av och deltagande i konferens/workshop/kurs/seminarium

Anna-Reetta Salonen

Jussi Heinonsalo (Handledare)
okt 2018jun 2019

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperHandledning av annat kunskapsprov (pro gradu, licentiatavhandling)