Juha Mikola


Description of research and teaching

I lead Terrestrial Interactions Research Group. In the group, we are interested in how plants and soil decomposers control each other, how herbivores modify this interaction and how all these interactions together govern nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. We have also studied the responses of tree growth and greenhouse gas emissions to the warming climate in northern ecosystems. Our study systems range from the agricultural fields and grasslands to the boreal forests and arctic tundra.

In recent years, we have mostly been working with silver birch, Betula pendula, to understand how plant traits - such as herbivore resistance, litter decomposition rate and competitive ability in nutrient uptake - are interlinked at plant genotype level. This research clarifies the mechanisms that control plant growth and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems and shows how natural selection can drive ecosystem processes through affecting plant traits. We are also a part of a larger, Academy-funded research consortium that aims at understanding the response of Betula trees and shrubs to climate warming. In a more theoretical framework, we are currently testing the consequences of kin recognition on Betula seedling behaviour and resource allocation in the early phases of seedling growth.

My teaching consists of lectures in soil and ecosystem ecology and demonstrations and training sessions in basic biometry. I also tutor students in a field course, where they learn the basic methods of ecological research. I have supervised the work of three doctoral students, each related to plant-soil interactions in grassland ecosystems. Currently, I guide the work of graduate and doctoral students, whose research interests cover a wider range of soil, plant population and ecosystem ecology.


Curriculum Vitae

I have experience in both research and teaching. Before the current appointment as a university lecturer at the University of Helsinki, I was an assistant professor at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and a postdoctoral researcher at Landcare Research, New Zealand. I have published over 50 refereed articles in international science journals and for years 2009-2016, I was a subject editor in Plant and Soil. My research projects have been funded by the Academy of Finland and the EU, the total received funding being around 1.3 million euros.

Highlighted publications

  1. Genome sequencing and population genomic analyses provide insights into the adaptive landscape of silver birch

    Salojärvi, J., Smolander, O-P., Nieminen, K., Rajaraman, S., Safronov, O., Safdari, P., Lamminmäki, A., Immanen, J., Lan, T., Tanskanen, J., Rastas, P., Amiryousefi, A., Jayaprakash, B., Kammonen, J. I., Hagqvist, R., Eswaran, G., Ahonen, V. H., Serra, J. A., Asiegbu, F. O., Barajas-Lopez, J. D. D., Blande, D., Blokhina, O., Blomster, T., Broholm, S., Brosche, M., Cui, F., Dardick, C., Ehonen, S. E., Elomaa, P., Escamez, S., Fagerstedt, K. V., Fujii, H., Gauthier, A., Gollan, P. J., Halimaa, P., Heino, P. I., Himanen, K., Hollender, C., Kangasjarvi, S., Kauppinen, L., Kelleher, C. T., Kontunen-Soppela, S., Koskinen, J. P., Kovalchuk, A., Karenlampi, S. O., Kärkönen, A. K., Lim, K-J., Leppälä, J., Macpherson, L., Mikola, J., Mouhu, K., Mähönen, A. P., Niinemets, U., Oksanen, E., Overmyer, K., Palva, E. T., Pazouki, L., Pennanen, V., Puhakainen, T., Poczai, P., Possen, B. J. H. M., Punkkinen, M., Rahikainen, M. M., Rousi, M., Ruonala, R., van der Schoot, C., Shapiguzov, A., Sierla, M., Sipilä, T. P., Sutela, S., Teeri, T. H., Tervahauta, A. I., Vaattovaara, A., Vahala, J., Vetchinnikova, L., Welling, A., Wrzaczek, M., Xu, E., Paulin, L. G., Schulman, A. H., Lascoux, M., Albert, V. A., Auvinen, P., Helariutta, Y. & Kangasjarvi, J. 8 May 2017 In : Nature Genetics. 49, 6, p. 904-912 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Intrapopulation Genotypic Variation of Foliar Secondary Chemistry during Leaf Senescence and Litter Decomposition in Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

    Paaso, U., Keski-Saari, S., Keinänen, M., Karvinen, H., Silfver, T., Rousi, M. & Mikola, J. 26 Jun 2017 In : Frontiers in Plant Science. 8, 14 p., 1074

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Soil faunal and structural responses to the settlement of a semi-sedentary earthworm Lumbricus terrestris in an arable clay field

    Nuutinen, V., Butt, K., Hyväluoma, J., Ketoja, E. & Mikola, J. T. 2017 In : Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 115, p. 285-296

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Spatial variation and seasonal dynamics of leaf-area index in the arctic tundra-implications for linking ground observations and satellite images

    Juutinen, S., Virtanen, T., Kondratyev, V., Laurila, T., Linkosalmi, M., Mikola, J., Nyman, J., Rasanen, A., Tuovinen, J-P. & Aurela, M. Aug 2017 In : Environmental research letters. 12, 9, 10 p., 095002

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Impact of earthworm Lumbricus terrestris living sites on the greenhouse gas balance of no-till arable soil

    Nieminen, M., Hurme, T., Mikola, J. T., Regina, K. & Nuutinen, V. 2015 In : Biogeosciences. 12, 18, p. 5481-5493 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  6. Genotype x Herbivore Effect on Leaf Litter Decomposition in Betula Pendula Saplings: Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences and the Role of Secondary Metabolites

    Silfver, T., Paaso, U., Rasehorn, M., Rousi, M. & Mikola, J. 26 Jan 2015 In : PLoS One. 10, 1, 15 p., 0116806

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  7. Growth and genotype x environment interactions in Betula pendula: can tree genetic variation be maintained by small-scale forest ground heterogeneity?

    Mikola, J., Paaso, U., Silfver, T., Autelo, M., Koikkalainen, K., Ruotsalainen, S. & Rousi, M. 2014 In : Evolutionary Ecology. 28, 5, p. 811-828 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Latest activities

  1. Biology and Fertility of Soils (Journal)

    Mikola, J. (Reviewer)
    25 Mar 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Luonnon Tutkija (Journal)

    Mikola, J. (Reviewer)
    2 Oct 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Global change biology. Bioenergy (Journal)

    Mikola, J. (Reviewer)
    11 Jul 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

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Latest projects

  1. Genetic basis of nitrogen cycling in birch forest

    Mikola, J.

    Unknown funder


    Project: Research project

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ID: 43199