Foto av Maija Sierla
  • PL 65 (Viikinkaari 1)

    00014

    Finland

  • Viikinkaari 1, Biocentre 3

    00790 Helsinki

    Finland

20132022

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Personlig profil

Forskningsintressen

Plant Environmental Signalling Group

My research group studies the molecular basis of stomatal function. We aim to decipher the molecular mechanisms through which guard cells sense and respond to changing environmental conditions. We also study vascular water transport and aim to identify molecular components through which stomatal function and regulation of water transport are connected and coordinated. Although our main focus is on stomatal regulation and plant water relations, we also pursue other lines of research relating to plant abiotic and biotic stress sensing and signalling.

The group was established in 2020 with funding from the Academy of Finland and currently (January 2022) consists of the principal investigator Maija Sierla, postdoctoral researcher Xavier Zarza Cubero, and doctoral researchers Nerea Valdebenito Alamar and Jasmin Kemppinen.

Information om forskning och undervisning

Stomata are formed on the leaf surface by two surrounding guard cells and simultaneously regulate and balance water loss with the uptake of carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis. Stomata are a primary site of interaction of the plant with its environment and have developed mechanisms to sense and respond to changing conditions.  We have shown that the leucine-rich receptor-like kinase (LRR-RLK) GHR1 is a central regulator of stomatal closure. GHR1 is a pseudokinase that activates the guard cell anion channel SLAC1 and acts in stomatal closure through scaffolding functions rather than direct phosphorylation of target proteins.

Given the severity and pervasive nature of stomatal phenotypes in ghr1 mutant plants, GHR1 may be an integration point where diverse endogenous and environmental signals converge to regulate components required for rapid stomatal closure. We have identified multiple novel interactors of GHR1, including channel proteins, transporters and LRR-RLKs. We aim to characterize these novel components and the mechanistic details of the interactions in order to further our understanding of the signaling networks that regulate stomatal function.

Although stomatal function must be intricately linked to the transport of water at the whole plant level, research combining these two processes, and especially knowledge of the molecular components involved, is lacking. We have shown that GHR1 regulates water transport in the vasculature and identified interactors that may facilitate this function. Further characterization of these molecular interactions will shed light on how stomatal function and regulation of water transport are connected at the level of the whole plant.

I teach plant molecular biology and plant biotechnology.

Meritförteckning

CV, MAIJA SIERLA, 24.01.2022

 

PERSONAL DETAILS

Full name: Sierla, Maija Elina

ORCID Identifier: 0000-0002-8493-3582

Nationality: Finnish

 

EDUCATION AND DEGREES COMPLETED

2006-2011 Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Molecular plant biology

 

2005-2006 University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Helsinki, Finland

Master of Science in December 2006

 

1998-2002 University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom

Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biological Sciences

 

CURRENT POSITIONS

2020-2025 University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Academy Research Fellow, Principal Investigator

Period of employment: 01.09.2020-31.08.2025

 

2022-2029 University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Principal Investigator within the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Tree Biology

Period of employment: 01.01.2022-31.12.2029

 

PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE

2018-2020 University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Researcher

Period of employment: 01.07.2018-31.08.2020

Funded by personal grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation and Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence Funding to Jaakko Kangasjärvi

 

2011-2018 University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Post-doctoral researcher in the group of Prof Jaakko Kangasjärvi

Period of employment: 17.10.2011-30.06.2018

Funded by a 2-year personal grant for post-doctoral research from Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation and Academy of Finland project and Centre of Excellence funding to Prof Kangasjärvi

 

2013 Helmholz Zentrum, Munich, Germany

Visiting post-doctoral researcher for six weeks in the ExpoScreen facility

 

2006-2011 Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student in the group of Dr Bart Feys in Life Sciences Doctoral Training Program, funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (3 years) and Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth foundation (1 year)  

 

03/2010 University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom

Visiting PhD student in Prof Marc Knight’s laboratory

 

2002-2005 Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, United Kingdom

Research Assistant in Dr John Rathjen’s laboratory

 

2000-2001 Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, United Kingdom

Research Technician in Dr Anne Osbourn’s laboratory

 

CAREER BREAKS

On maternity leave March 2019 – February 2020

On maternity leave October 2016 – August 2017

On maternity leave March 2014 – January 2015

 

PERSONAL RESEARCH FUNDING AND GRANTS

2021 Academy of Finland

Centre of Excellence in Tree Biology, Main applicants Yrjö Helariutta (Director), Jaakko Kangasjärvi and Ari Pekka Mähönen. The programme consists of 12 Principal Investigators, including Maija Sierla.

Funding period: 01.01.2022 – 31.12.2029

 

2020 Academy of Finland

Academy Research Fellow, Principal Investigator Dr Sierla (€940 000)

Project: GHR1 and its interactors in stomatal movements and water transport in the vasculature

Funding period: 01.09.2020 - 31.08.2025

 

2020 Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation

Grant (€4500) for a two-month research visit to a collaborator’s laboratory in France

 

2019 Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation

One-year researcher grant (€31 000)

 

2018 Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation

Grant (€2000) for organizing a workshop on guard cell signalling at the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research 2018 conference

 

2016 Finnish Cultural Foundation

One-year researcher grant (€28 000)

 

2011-2013 Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation

Two-year grant (€44 000) for post-doctoral research

Funding period: 17.10.2011-16.10.2013       

 

2012 University of Helsinki, Chancellor’s Grant

Travel grant for attending the 29th New Phytologist Symposium

 

2009-2010 Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation

One-year grant for completion the Doctoral thesis (€16 000)

 

2009 Gregory Fund

Travel grant for attending the 20th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research

 

2006-2009 Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Three year Doctoral training grant (€53 300)

 

2002 North-Karelian Division of the Finnish Cultural Foundation

Grant supporting the final year studies of my BSc degree

 

TEACHING TRAINING

University Pedagogy courses (University of Helsinki)

Constructive Alignment in Course Design, 5 credits (YP 2.1 Opetuksen linjakas suunnittelu, toteutus ja arviointi)

Learning in Higher Education, 5 credits (YP1 Oppiminen yliopistossa)

Workshop for Graduate Teaching Assistants (Imperial College London)

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Lecturer and teacher at the following courses at the University of Helsinki:

IPS-123 Laboratory Course in Plant Biotechnology

IPS-131 Advanced course in plant molecular biology

DPPS-107 Signal transduction in plants

DPPS-501 Current Challenges in Plant Biology

ViPS/​​​DPPS Current Challenges in Tree Biology

 

Graduate teaching assistant for the following undergraduate courses organized by the Division of Biology in the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Imperial College London:

Applied Molecular Biology, 2007-2009

Virology, 2007-2009

 

RESEARCH OUTPUT

9 publications, 492 citations, h-index: 6

 

RESEARCH SUPERVISION AND LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE

2020-                                          Leadership experience

Independent group leader and supervisor for two postdoctoral researchers

 

2021-                                          Supervision experience

Primary supervisor of two PhD students. Both students are members of Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences (DPPS) of University of Helsinki.

 

2006-2020       Supervision experience

Primary supervisor for the MSc thesis of one student (2016-2018), University of Helsinki

Secondary supervisor for the thesis of five MSc/MRes students, three BSc students and one Erasmus exchange student, Imperial College London

 

EXPERIENCE OF ORGANIZING SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS

25-29.06.2018, International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR). The main organizer and chair for a workshop entitled ‘Perception of stress and CO2 in guard cells’ at ICAR2018. Prof Hannes Kollist was a co-organizer.

21-25.06.2021, Organization of mini-symposium entitled ‘How do plants sense and respond to elevated carbon dioxide, ozone and drought?’ for ICAR2021, main organizer and chair Maija Sierla, co-organizer Prof Julian Schroeder.

 

OTHER KEY SCIENTIFIC OR ACADEMIC MERITS

Invited speaker at Connecting Plants & People Webinar Series by Physiologia Plantarum and SPPS, May 2021

Oral presentation at the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR), Turku, Finland, June 2018.

Oral Presentation at Current Challenges in Plant Biology: Redox Regulation, Helsinki, Finland, December 2017.

Oral presentation at International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology, Annapolis, USA, June 2016.

Oral presentation at VISCEA Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance III Conference, Vienna, Austria, June 2015.

 

Utbildning / akademisk kvalifikation

Molecular plant biology, Doctor of Philosophy, Imperial College London

20062011

Tilldelningsdatum: 1 mars 2011

Biology, Genetics, Master of Science, Helsingfors universitet

20052006

Tilldelningsdatum: 18 aug. 2006

Biological Sciences, Bachelor of Science, University of East Anglia

19982002

Tilldelningsdatum: 14 juni 2002

Vetenskapsgrenar

  • 1183 Växtbiologi, mikrobiologi, virologi
  • 1184 Genetik, utvecklingsbiologi, fysiologi
  • 1182 Biokemi, cell- och molekylärbiologi

Internationellt och inhemskt samarbete

Publikationer och projekt inom de senaste fem åren.