Teaching & Supervision

Plant Responses to Climate Change

DPPS-303 Advanced Studies in ecophysiology & ecology & evolutionary biology 2019: Plant Responses to Climate Change, 21.10.2019-25.10.2019

In 2019, this course will consider responses to climate change focussing on light-x-temperature interaction and taking the perspective of scaling across levels of organisation from the molecular and physiological to the ecological; and in particular considering the time scales of plant response from the immediate or daily through acclimation and up-to adaptation to medium and long term environmental changes.

A diverse selection of inspiring young research leaders in their chosen fields will present their research in the context of how plants respond to climate change and debate the relative importance of mechanisms across levels of organisation within the plant and over different time scale.

Invited and local scientists will speak on their areas of expertise and discuss with students the implications of climate change for plants and plant communities. This year, Beatriz Fernández-Marín (acclimation of photoprotection), Jose Ignacio Garcia Plazaola (plant adaptation to survive in extreme environments), Frauke Pescheck (diurnal patterns of DNA repair and photoprotection), and Lizzie Wolkovich (phenological responses to climate change) will be among the international invited speakers giving an overview of their research fields. The course will be co-ordinated by Matthew Robson, who will give and overview of the topic and lead discussion to integrate knowledge from the lectures.

Selected post doc and PhD students from the University of Helsinki will also give focussed lectures highlighting the mechanisms that underpin plant responses to abiotic stresses in a changing climate. These lecturers include; Alexey Shapiguzov (on fast responses of the photosynthetic machinery), Julia Krasensky-Wrzaczek (on the integration of day-length and temperature by photoreceptors), Craig Brelsford (on the cues controlling mechanisms of plant phenology), and Neha Rai (on the control of photoreceptors under changing light conditions).

Course completion requires attendance and participation in the group discussions plus a short written assignment. Those students able to attend only part of the course can consult with Matthew Robson about whether they can obtain partial credit.

University of Helsinki students should register 19-Aug to 23-Sept 2019 through weboodi, while visiting students should write to Matthew Robson for more information on the course at: matthew.robson[at]helsinki.fi


There are good opportunities for undergraduates at the University of Helsinki who are interested in topics related to our research to get involved and do their projects or training with our research group. Read through these pages and get in touch with the group member whose project sounds interesting to you or arrange a meeting.


Plant Biology Journal Discussion

Informal fortnightly meetings to discuss interesting articles in plant science.  Discussions are arranged online through the course website on moodle. Usually a small group of up to 10 students choose and discuss new articles from the scientific literature. The aim is to broaden knowledge of plant science and foster interactions among graduate students, and generate debate between students, group leaders and post docs in the Plant Biology Division.

The paper2read blog managed by the SenPEP and CanSEE research groups is a useful resource identifying the most interesting new research published in plant physiological ecology. You can also check out the blog in the RSS feed on the main page of our group website.

Physiological Plant Ecology

This course is taught each autumn, sometimes by Pedro Aphalo and with some lectures by Matthew Robson, and is appropriate for students interested from Plant Biology, Plant Production Science, Agriculture and Forestry. Particular emphasis is placed on Plant Sensory Ecology and Plant Communication as well as the traditional themes of ecophysiology (i.e. gas exchange, water relations, and mineral nutrition). a relatively small group of students allows for extensive in-class discussion, thematic debates and student presentations. The course is good revision for Master’s and PhD students who need this knowledge for their projects, but will be most useful for undergraduates towards the end of their studies.

Ecosystem Ecology

This course is taught each spring by Pedro Aphalo & Matthew Robson. Ecosystem ecology is an interdisciplinary topic requiring a basic understanding of ecology, biology, geography, and meteorology.  The course leads students from the foundations of ecology, through to the cutting edge of  research into climate change and ecosystem processes and service. Students are encouraged to participate actively in the classes through discussion, presentations and debates.  The course is good revision for Master’s and PhD students who need this knowledge for their projects, but will be most useful for undergraduates towards the end of their studies.

Further information on all three University of Helsinki courses can be found in WedOodi and Moodle.

Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis of Experimental Data

Using R for reproducable data analysis. A taster for this course was taught as a training school for students in the COST Action uv4 growth and again at the uvplants meeting Pecs by Matthew Robson and Pedro Aphalo.


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