Kaarina Sivonen 
Professor of Microbiology
Head of the Department of Microbiology

Kaarina Sivonen has over 35 years experience on cyanobacterial research. She has been vice-director of the Research Center of Excellence on "Integrative Photosynthesis and Bioactive Compound Research at System Biology Lever" between the years 2008 and 2013. She was director of the Microbial Resources Research Center of Excellency (Applied Microbiology Research Programme) between the years 2002-2007. She has been Academy Professor between the years 2000-2010. She has published more than 200 articles on various aspects of toxic cyanobacterial ecology and bioactive compounds.
tel. +358 2 941 59 270

Link to TUHAT database
Link to ResearchGate
Link to ORCID



Principal Investigator
Department of Microbiology, University of Helsinki

Natural products are low molecular weight metabolites with diverse chemical structures and potent biological activities that play key roles in advancing our understanding of biology and in the development of medicine. My research focuses on the genomics and biochemistry of natural products biosynthetic pathways. I use a combination of bioinformatics, genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, synthetic biology and structural chemistry to guide the discovery of new natural products from cyanobacteria. I have 68 publications on various aspects of natural product biosynthesis and comparative genomics.
tel. +358 2 941 59 275
Link to TUHAT website
Link to ORCID

Jouni Jokela

Structural analysis of cyanobacterial bioactive compounds

Sivonen group)

I have 35 years research experience on the field of analytic chemistry of biomolecules especially with chromatographic and spectrometric methods and over 15 year’s experience in structural analysis of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites. In structural analysis the main methods and equipments are high resolution MS (Waters Acquity I-Class UPLC-Synapt G2-Si QTOF) and 2D 1H, 13C and 15N NMR (Bruker Avance III HD 800 MHz NMR spectrometer). I have published about 80 papers in refereed international journals and participated in three patent applications.

M.Sc. (Biochemistry), Ph.D. (Microbiology), Docent in microbiology
tel. +358 2 941 59296, +358-40-5484987

Link to TUHAT database

Link to ORCID


Jonna Teikari

Transcriptomics and proteomics of Cyanobacteria.

Ph.D. student (Sivonen group)

I am a PhD student and I have a background in molecular biology and microbiology,. I work in the BONUS Blueprint project. My research focuses on the ecology of the toxic and bloom-forming Baltic Sea cyanobacteria under changing environmental conditions exploiting both cyanobacterial culture collection and field samples. To understand the community structure and function comprehensively, modern sequencing techniques are coupled with the process rates and environmental parameters.

M.Sc. (Biotechnology) , Ph D student (Microbiology)
tel. +358 2 941 59272


Link to TUHAT database


Anu Humisto (Sivonen group)

Bioactive compounds from cyanobacteria

I am PhD student and work with bioactive compounds. I joined the cyanobacteria research group for my Master`s thesis work, where I screened cyanobacteria from the UHCC culture collection for antimicrobial and antifungal activities. In my PhD studies, I focus on finding antifungal and antileukemic (anticancer) compounds from cyanobacteria for the needs of drug development. The studies of bioactive compounds involve screening of cyanobacteria and finding the biosynthesis and the mechanism of action of active compounds. The methods range from cell culturing to molecular biology and bioinformatics.


M. Sc. (Microbiology), Ph D student (Microbiology)
tel. +358 2 941 59268

Link to TUHAT database

Link to Orcid


Antti Mattila

Genome mining for new natural products

Ph.D. student, Fewer group

My research uses genome mining for natural product discovery. The aim is to characterize novel ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs), which are a growing natural product class with significant structural variety. I use a combination of bioinformatics, molecular biology and structural chemistry in identifying new bioactive compounds from bacterial biosynthetic pathways.

M.Sc. (Microbiology),
tel. +358 2 941 59268

Link to TUHAT database

Lassi Heinilä
Ph.D. student (Sivonen group)

I am a PhD student working in the project Characterization of antifungal and anti-cancer compounds from cyanobacteria. My work includes screening cyanobacterial strains for cytotoxic compounds, purifying the bioactive natural products, characterizing the compounds and their biosynthetic genes, and analyzing their antifungal and anti-cancer activity. Previously I did my master’s thesis also in the cyanobacterial research group and graduated from the University of Helsinki in December 2017. My first publication is entitled “Production of High Amounts of Hepatotoxin Nodularin and New Protease Inhibitors Pseudospumigins by the Brazilian Benthic Nostoc sp. CENA543”.
Tel. +358 2 941 59312
TUHAT page

Rafael Popin


Bioactive compounds from cyanobacteria
Ph.D. student (Sivonen group)


I work with genomics of Brazilian cyanobacteria. I am responsible performing genomic and functional analysis of cyanobacterial strains isolated from Brazilian biomes. The study aims to identify possible novel bioactive compounds with interesting pharmacological properties and also provide new genetic, metabolic and ecological information about these strains.
Tel. +358 2 941 59275

Muhammad Nouman Ahmed
Ph.D. student (Fewer group)

I work with protease inhibitors from cyanobacteria as a source of anticancer drug leads. I completed my bachelors in Biotechnology from Forman Cristian College, Lahore Pakistan. I have a M.Sc. degree from the University of Helsinki. My PhD project revolves around the identification and characterization of selective inhibitors of human trypsin isoforms from cyanobacteria to prevent the metastasis.
Tel. +358 2 941 59312
ResearchGate page

Rashmi Shrestha
M.Sc. student (Sivonen Group)

I completed by Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.  I joined Professor Sivonen’s group in 2016. My master’s thesis project includes study of trancriptomics of Baltic Sea Nodularia spumigena in different environmental conditions. My thesis title is Phosphonate utilization by Baltic Sea Nodularia spumigena.
Tel. +358 2 941 59312
Link to ResearchGate


Rose-Marie Andsten
M.Sc. student (Fewer group)

My M.Sc. thesis focuses on the identification of the muscoride biosynthetic pathway and characterizing the biological activity of this peptide alkaloid.
Tel. +358 2 941 59275


Antimicrobial and anticancer compounds from cyanobacteria

M.Sc. Student (Sivonen Group)

I have a B.Sc in Biology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. I have a background in the taxonomic classification of Cyanobacteria using a polyphasic approach. I joined the cyanobacterial research group as a Master’s thesis student in 2017. My current project includes the isolation, purification and characterization of antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer compounds from Finnish (UHCC) and Brazilian (CENA) cyanobacterial strains. The project is partially funded by the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).




Lyudmila Saari (University of Helsinki Personnel)
Maintenance and development of HAMBI culture collection (cyanobacteria)

M.Sc. (Microbiology)
tel. +358 2 941 59286


Matti Wahlsten (University of Helsinki Personnel)

Operator of LC-MS facility (vice personnel for maintenance of cyanobacterial culture collection)


tel. +358 2 941 59296