Foto av Miia Mäkelä

Miia Mäkelä

Docent in Microbiology

  • PL 56 (Viikinkaari 9)



  • Department of Microbiology PL 56 (Viikinkaari 9) Biocenter 1 00014 Helsingin yliopisto



Forskningsoutput per år

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Personlig profil

Information om forskning och undervisning

I am Academy of Finland Research Fellow and Novo Nordisk Foundation Ascending Investigator addressing fungal degradation and modification of plant biomass. The research focuses on various aspects of fungal molecular biology and enzymology. Lignocellulose, particularly lignin, degradation has been the long-term interest at the Department of Microbiology. Our research has provided strong international contribution in the field of fungal and enzymatic degradation of lignin and lignocellulose.

My recent research interests are sugar transport in filamentous fungi, molecular level regulation of plant biomass conversion in basidiomycete fungi as well as development of genome editing tools for basidiomycete fungi.

In addition, our research topics include functional genomics of plant biomass degrading fungi from various biotopes with different and complementary points of view:

i) Genome mining and characterization of novel plant biomass modifying activities and fungal carbon metabolism

ii) Elucidating the difference in plant biomass strategies between ascomycetes and basidiomycetes

iii) Heterologous production of novel catalysts for biomass valorisation


Current projects:

  1. The dual role of sugar transporters in plant biomass conversion by fungi to improve microbial cell factories (MYCOFACT), Novo Nordisk Foundation (2021-2026)
  2. Exploring the regulatory system that controls plant biomass degradation in basidiomycete white rot fungi (ESCaPADE), Academy of Finland (2017-2022)
  3. Facilitating reliable CAZyme function prediction of fungal enzymes from expanded and poorly characterized families, Joint Genome Institute (JGI-DOE), USA (2020-2021)
  4. Dissecting the central metabolic network of Aspergillus niger during growth on plant biomass, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), USA (2019-2020)
  5. Validation of metabolic models, extrapolated from the reference sugar catabolism genetic network of Aspergillus niger by using an orthology-based approach, of evolutionarily diverse fungi, JGI-DOE-EMSL, USA (2018-2020)
  6. Enzymes for selective cleavage of lignin (Ph.D. project of Mila Marinović)

Previous projects:

  1. Fuel and chemicals from lignin through enzymatic and chemical conversion (FALCON) EU-H2020 (2017-2020)
  2. Colony plasticity of filamentous fungi, EMSL, USA (2016-2017)
  3. Experimental validation of a central carbon metabolic models in Aspergillus niger to enable metabolic engineering of this fungal cell factory, EMSL, USA (2018-2019)
  4. Dissecting intraspecies diversity in fungal wood decay, JGI-DOE-EMSL, USA (2015-2019)
  5. Optimized esterase biocatalysts for cost-effective industrial production (OPTIBIOCAT) EU-FP7, KBBE-.2013.3.3-04, (2013-2017)
  6. Sustainable biomass conversions by highly efficient catalytic processes (SuBiCat) EU-FP7, Marie Curie-ITN, (2013-2017)
  7. Test centers for green energy solutions - Biorefineries and business needs, Norcid Council of Ministers (2014-2015)
  8. Plant biomass degradation in Dichomitus squalens (Ph.D. project of Sara Casado López)
  9. Plant biomass modifying enzymes of ascomycete fungi  (Ph.D. project of Sadegh Mansouri)
  10. Basidiomycete cellulolytic enzymes and their applications (Ph.D. project of Johanna Rytioja)
  11. How mushrooms feed on sugars (Ph.D. project of Aleksandrina Patyshakuliyeva)

Current team members:

  • Shreya Saha, postdoctoral researcher
  • Victor Gonzalez, doctoral student

Previous team members:

  • Joanna Kowalczyk, postdoctoral researcher
  • Maxine Parmentier, MSc student (University of Reims, France)
  • Alisa Shubina, BSc student (HAN University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands)
  • Astrid Müeller, MSc student (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany)
  • Viviany Viriato, MSc student (São Paulo State University, Brazil)

International collaboration:

  • Prof. Ronald de Vries, Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Utrecht, The Netherlands: Comparison of basidiomycete and ascomycete approaches for plant biomass conversion
  • Prof. Adrian Tsang, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada: Dissection of strategies for plant biomass degradation by Dichomitus squalens
  • Prof. Dan Eastwood, Swansea University, UK: Genomes to dynamic decay communities: Understanding fungal interactions during early decomposition events in natural lignocellulosic substrate


I am involved in the teaching of bachelor, master and doctoral students in lectures and laboratory courses in microbiology, biotechnology and mycology. I also supervise BSc, MSc and doctoral theses.

Organizer of Microbiology seminars (MBDP doctoral programme, MBDP302)

Bachelor courses (in Finnish): Basics in microbiology (MOLE212C), Fungal biology (MMB701, MYKO251), Microbial biotechnology (YBIOT315)

Master courses (in English): Advanced methods in microbiology (MIKRO510), Production of recombinant proteins (YBIOT565), Fungal biotechnology research methods (MYKO540), Forest microbiology and biotechnology (YBIOT570), Advanced laboratory training at research group (BIOT422)

Collaborator in PhD programme "Criticat CDT" which is a comprehensive and state-of-the-art PhD training programme in catalytic science funded by the UK funding agency EPSRC. PhD programme (2014 - 2022) is hosted by the Universities of St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt.

Collaborator in the Print Capes-UFV program of the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil (2019-).

Utbildning / akademisk kvalifikation

Microbiology, Docent, Helsingfors universitet

Tilldelningsdatum: 23 jan 2017

Externa befattningar

Research Scientist, Fungal Physiology, Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Utrecht

1 okt 201631 mar 2017


  • 11832 Mikrobiologi och virologi

Internationellt och inhemskt samarbete

Publikationer och projekt inom de senaste fem åren.
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