Foto på Kaarina Sivonen
  • PL 56 (Viikinkaari 9)



  • Viikinkaari 5, Biocenter 2

    00790 Helsinki


1982 …2022
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Personlig profil

Information om forskning och undervisning

Research Interests: Cyanobacteria, toxins and bioactive compounds

Principal investigator: Professor in Microbiology, Kaarina Sivonen


Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) carry out oxygen evolving plant-like photosynthesis and are thus important for the survival of life on Earth through the production of oxygen and sequestration of carbon dioxide. In aquatic environment they may form harmful toxic mass occurrences which pose a serious health hazard for animals and human beings. Some of them are also able to fix nitrogen and form symbioses (e.g. lichens). Cyanobacteria are prolific source of biomedically interesting bioactive compounds.

The cyanobacteria research group found toxic mass occurrences of cyanobacteria to be common in Finnish lakes and in the Baltic Sea, isolated the toxin producing cyanobacteria, investigated toxin production and identified the toxins. Toxic and non-toxic cyanobacteria cannot be differentiated by microscopy and we have developed molecular methods to detect producers of toxins and odorous metabolites.

Cyanobacteria are prolific source of interesting bioactive compounds. We have identified number of novel bioactive compounds (toxins, bioactive compounds having cytotoxic, enzyme inhibiting and antifungal and antibacterial properties) from strains in our culture collection and genome projects have revealed number of new biosynthetic pathways. Bioactive compounds are synthetized by both ribosomal and non-ribosomal pathways in cyanobacteria. We have sequenced number of cyanobacteria and used genome mining to identify the biosynthetic pathways for cyanobacterial natural products. We use physiological experiments, field studies and post genomic analyses of toxic and bloom forming cyanobacteria to study the ecology of these organisms.

Key facilities in our research are the culture collection of cyanobacteria (UHCC part of HAMBI collection) and mass spectrometry and NMR facilities of the University of Helsinki. By chemical analysis methods we can quantitate the toxin and bioactive compounds, purify the compounds and solve the structures of unknown new compounds.  We have also found promising hydrogen producers from our culture collection.


Research group belonged to the Finnish Research Center of Excellence in Integrative Photosynthesis and Bioactive Compound Research at Systems Biology Level (2008-2013).

Members of the research group:
Docent Jouni Jokelapost-doc Danillo Alvarenga, Ph D students Anu Humisto, Julia Österholm, Lassi Heinilä and Rafael Popin, technical assistants Maria Christodoulou, Sila Arsin and Anna Jortikka

More information:
Cyanobacteria Group



  • 1183 Växtbiologi, mikrobiologi, virologi

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

Publikationer 1982 2019

The Biosynthesis of Rare Homo-Amino Acid Containing Variants of Microcystin by a Benthic Cyanobacterium

Shishido, T. K., Jokela, J., Humisto, A., Suurnäkki, S., Wahlsten, M., Oliveria de Alvarenga, D., Sivonen, K. & Fewer, D., 7 maj 2019, I : Marine Drugs. 17, 5, s. 1 16 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Alternative biosynthetic starter units enhance the structural diversity of cyanobacterial lipopeptides

Mareš, J., Hajek, J., Urajova, P., Kust, A., Jokela, J. K., Saurav, K., Galica, T., Čapková, K., Mattila, A. I., Haapaniemi, E., Permi, P., Mysterud, I., Skulberg, O., Karlsen, J., Fewer, D. P., Sivonen, A. K., Tønnesen, H. & Hrouzek, P., 28 nov 2018, (!!Accepted/In press) I : Applied and Environmental Microbiology. AEM02675-18R1 .

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Antifungal and Antileukemic Compounds from Cyanobacteria: Bioactivity, Biosynthesis, and Mechanism of Action

Humisto, A. K., 23 nov 2018, Helsinki: University of Helsinki. 72 s.

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandlingSamling av artiklar

Öppen tillgång

Biosynthesis of microcystin hepatotoxins in the cyanobacterial genus Fischerella

Heck, K., Alvarenga, D. O., Shishido, T. K., Varani, A. M., Dorr, F. A., Pinto, E., Rouhiainen, L., Jokela, J., Sivonen, K. & Fiore, M. F., jan 2018, I : Toxicon. 141, s. 43-50 8 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Comparative Genomics of the Baltic Sea Toxic Cyanobacteria Nodularia spumigena UHCC 0039 and Its Response to Varying Salinity

Teikari, J. E., Hou, S., Wahlsten, M., Hess, W. R. & Sivonen, K., 8 mar 2018, I : Frontiers in Microbiology. 9, 13 s., 356.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Öppen tillgång

Projekter 2000 2022

Aktiviteter 1995 2018

Invited oral presentation in Baltic Blue Alliance International Conference: Blue biotechnology in Baltic Sea region from science to business.

Kaarina Sivonen (!!Invited speaker)
22 aug 201824 aug 2018

Aktivitet: Typer för tal eller presentation!!Invited talk

Custos and member of evaluation committee of the Ph D thesis by Johannes Cairns (Evenemang)

Kaarina Sivonen (Assessment)
10 aug 2018

Aktivitet: MedlemskapstyperMedlemskap eller annan role i inhemsk/internationell kommitté, råd, styrelse

Hivana Patricia Melo Barbosa Dall’Agnol

Kaarina Sivonen (Värd)
6 aug 20181 sep 2018

Aktivitet: Typer för att vara värd för en besökareAkademiskt besök på HU

Leonardo Teixeira Dall’Agnol

Kaarina Sivonen (Värd)
7 aug 20181 sep 2018

Aktivitet: Typer för att vara värd för en besökareAkademiskt besök på HU

Pre-examiner of the Ph D thesis by Marika Tossavainen

Kaarina Sivonen (Förhandsgranskare)
15 jun 201830 jun 2018

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperFörhandsgranskare av doktorsavhandling