Stipends available for doing M.Sc. thesis

Update (6 June 2014): One grant has been awarded. We are still willing to receive applications for the second one, even for thesis work later in the year.

We have available stipends for supporting two M.Sc. students during their thesis research. Each stipend is 1100 €, and can be fully used to cover living expenses, as research costs will be paid by us.

There is some flexibility in subject but basically there are three options:

1) Study of the role of ultraviolet radiation in the pre-emptive acclimation of tree seedlings to drought. Location: Viikki field. Start: 4 June 2014. Measurements: water use, growth, gas-exchange and/or chlorophyll fluorescence. Supervisors: Pedro Aphalo and Luis Morales.

2) Study changes in gene expression in response to UV radiation in Arabidopsis photoreceptor mutants (and respective wild types). Location: Viikki greenhouse and labs. Start: 1 July at the latest. Measurements: gene expression by PCR. Light measurements.Supervisors: Luis Morales and Pedro Aphalo.

3) Study of accumulation of osmotica in guard cells of Arabidopsis photoreceptor mutants (and respective wild types) through histochemical methods (microscopy). Start: soon. Measurements: microphotography. Supervisors: Fang Wang, Pedro Aphalo, Kurt Fagerstedt.

Applications as PDF attachments to an e-mail to Pedro Aphalo ( sent before 31 May 2014, 16:00, EET.Each application should include: short CV including student number, an authorization to check records in Oodi or include a transcript. A motivation letter explaining why you would like to do your Gradu in our research group, also indicating which subject is of most interest, and which if any are of no interest to you. The name of a person (preferably a teacher) able to give references should be provided. This call is not limited to Plant Biology students but previous experience will be taken into account during selection.
Depending on number of applicants, informal interviews may be arranged.

New web site is live!

Today I have deleted the old website and setup a redirection for the old address. From today this is the public site of our research group.

Software for solar and lamp radiation calculations and acquisition

As part of my participation in the COST Action UV4growth I have been working on an R packages for analysing and acquiring spectral data using the R system for statistics. They are described and can be downloaded from the blog of the Technical Group 1 (TG1) of the COST Action. The package UVcalc is at version 1.2.0 and will be ready for wide use after a few days of additional testing. There are another two packages under development, but not yet ready for release: one of them is for applying advanced correction algorithms as developed by Lasse Ylianttila from STUK for improving the performance of array spectrometers in the UV region of the spectrum. Another package under development will allow the control and acquisition of spectral data from Ocean Optics spectrometers directly from within R. If you are willing to test or use any of these packages, or even help with the coding, please, contact me. The packages will be released under GPL licence and at the moment are in a Git repository hosted at Bitbucket. The UVcalc repository is already public, the others are private.

On extreme altruistic behaviour

The paper “Evolution of suicide as a defence strategy against pathogens in a spatially structured environment” is about bacteria, but plant populations can also be spatially structured. Probably plants do not commit suicide, but it would be worthwhile looking at other possible altruistic types of behaviour in plants within the context of this analysis. The paper is at

A related paper “Altruism can evolve when relatedness is low: evidence from bacteria committing suicide upon phage infection.”  This paper is available at

Maybe these papers could be discussed in a future journal club.