Research output per year

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Personlig profil

Information om forskning och undervisning

Our research is focusing on characterization, modification and utilization of polysaccharides, especially plant-derived hemicelluloses (xylans, mannans). Hemicelluloses constituting 25-30% of plant materials are the second most abundant plant polysaccharides after cellulose. Hemicelluloses consist of several structurally different polysaccharides that exist in the plant cell walls closely associated with cellulose. In spite of their abundance, hemicelluloses are not yet as effectively utilized as starch and cellulose. Unlike starch, hemiselluloses are not digested by humans, which makes them an interesting raw material both for food (dietary fibre, prebiotics) and chemical industries.

We work with xylans from cereals and woods as well as with different mannans. In addition we collaborate with cereal technologists in the beta-glucan research and are studying on exopolysaccharides, such as different dextrans produced by lactic acid bacteria. One of our aims is to understand better the structure - function relationships of polysaccharides. We are also interested on production of specific oligosaccharides using selective enzymatic hydrolysis, and preparation of films and nanocomposites from renewable hemicellulosic polymers. Enzymes are actively utilized as selective tools in analytics and for targeted modifications of polysaccharide structures and functionalities. 

More info: http://www.helsinki.fi/food-and-environment/research/groups/hemicellulose_research.html




I was appointed as a professor of Bioproduction Chemistry at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry in December 1, 2001. I started at my position in August 1, 2002. During 2004-2006 and 2014-2017 I have been acting as the Head of Department and during 2010-2013 as the Vice-Head of Department. Presently, since 2018, I have worked as half-time Vice-Dean with reponsibility on research and doctoral education.

Before joining the University of Helsinki I have worked almost fifteen years at VTT Biotechnology as a graduate student, a scientist, a senior scientist and a group manager (Enzyme Technology). After that I was employed by KCL, Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute for a short period. As a PhD student I spent seven months as a visiting scientist at the Department of Chemistry, MIT, USA.



  • 416 Livsmedelsvetenskap
  • 1183 Växtbiologi, mikrobiologi, virologi
  • 116 Kemi

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


Lactose- and cellobiose-derived branched trisaccharides and a sucrose-containing trisaccharide produced by acceptor reactions of Weissella confusa dextransucrase

Shi, Q., Juvonen, M. K., Hou, Y., Kajala, I., Nyyssölä, A., Maina, H. N., Maaheimo, H., Virkki, M-L. & Tenkanen, T. M., 2016, I : Food Chemistry. 109, January, s. 226-236 11 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

The impact of fermentation with exopolysaccharide producing lactic acid bacteria on rheological, chemical and sensory properties of pureed carrots (Daucus carota L)

Juvonen, R., Honkapää, K., Maina, N. H., Shi, Q., Viljanen, K., Maaheimo, H., Virkki, L., Tenkanen, M. & Lantto, R., 2015, I : International Journal of Food Microbiology. 207 , s. 109-118 10 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Combination of internal and external plasticization of hydroxypropylated birch xylan tailors the properties of sustainable barrier films

Mikkonen, K. S., Laine, C., Kontro, I., Talja, R. A., Serimaa, R. & Tenkanen, M., 2015, I : European Polymer Journal. 66, s. 307-318 12 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

O-Acetylation of glucuronoxylan in Arabidopsis thaliana wild type and its change in xylan biosynthesis mutants

Chong, S-L., Virkki, M-L., Maaheimo, H., Juvonen, M., Derba-Maceluch, M., Koutaniemi, S., Roach, M., Sundberg, B., Tuomainen, P., Mellerowicz, E. J. & Tenkanen, M., 2014, I : Glycobiology. 24, 6, s. 494-506 13 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Enzymatic oxidation as a potential new route to produce polysaccharide aerogels

Mikkonen, K. S., Parikka, K., Suuronen, J-P., Ghafar, A., Serimaa, R. & Tenkanen, M., 2014, I : RSC Advances. 4, 23, s. 11884-11892 9 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review



Award, The Marcus Wallenberg prize

Maija Tenkanen (!!Recipient), 2003

Pris: Pris och hedersbetygelser


Organiser of the conference (chairman), 11th Carbohydrate Bioengineering Meeting

Maija Tenkanen (Ordförande i organisationskommitté)
10 maj 201513 maj 2015

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

Graduate Programme for Biomass Refining (BIOREGS) (Extern organisation)

Maija Tenkanen (Ordförande)

Aktivitet: MedlemskapstyperMedlemskap eller annan roll i forskningsnätverk

Supervision of PhD thesis, Sun-Li Chong

Maija Tenkanen (Handledare)

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperHandledare eller bihandledare av doktorsavhandling

Supervision of PhD thesis, Ndegwa Maina

Maija Tenkanen (Handledare)

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperHandledare eller bihandledare av doktorsavhandling

Opponent PhD Thesis, Mürside Kes

Maija Tenkanen (Opponent)

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperOpponent i doktorsavhandling