Maatalous- metsätieteellinen tiedekunta


Recent Submissions

  • Heikkilä, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Nutrition plays an important role in athletic performance. Its full potential is rarely realized due to limited nutrition knowledge among athletes and their coaches. Misunderstandings and gaps in knowledge can lead to food choices that do not support athletic development. This thesis study was undertaken to gain further insight into the nutrition knowledge of young Finnish endurance athletes. Another aim was to evaluate how athletes’ knowledge and nutritional skills can be improved. Study I created and validated a questionnaire measuring knowledge in different areas of sports nutrition. This questionnaire was then used in Study II, which aimed to measure the nutrition knowledge of young Finnish endurance athletes and their coaches. The results of Study II were used to develop an education intervention, aiming to improve athletes’ nutrition knowledge and dietary intake, in Study III. The intervention compared the effects of participatory nutrition sessions alone to those enhanced by a mobile app. In Study II, a total of 312 athletes and 94 coaches completed the questionnaire. The athletes were 17.9±1.2 and the coaches 44.3±12.3 years old. Half of the athletes were women and half men; of the coaches 27% were women. Of the athletes 36% were cross country skiers, 35% orienteers and the rest other endurance athletes. Seventy-nine athletes took part in the intervention in Study III. Their mean age was 18.0±1.4 years, 56% of them were men and 44% were women, and 42% were cross-country skiers. The education in the intervention was based on the Self-Determination Theory and the concept of meaningful learning processes. The education sessions included discussions, tasks and goal setting, which were all intended to increase the athletes’ intrinsic motivation. This motivation in turn is a prerequisite for effective learning. The three sessions lasted 90 minutes each and were held fortnightly. The athletes filled in the questionnaire at baseline and a week and three months after the last session. The athletes in the mobile app group used the app for four days after each session and took photos of everything they ate or drank. Both groups completed a three-day food diary at baseline and three months after the last session and received personal feedback on it. On average, the athletes in Study II answered 73% and the coaches 81% of the items correctly. However, over a half of the athletes and 44% of the coaches scored below the mean knowledge score, at worst answering only 47% of the items correctly. The coaches scored better in all sections of the questionnaire. The questions in the ‘Dietary supplements’ section proved to be the most difficult for the athletes, and those in the ‘Nutrition recommendations for endurance athletes’ section for the coaches. The older the athletes were, the higher was their mean nutrition knowledge score. Among the coaches, the situation was the opposite. On average, the female athletes and coaches scored better than the men. The athletes who were part of a national team had higher knowledge scores than those who were not. The athletes’ nutrition knowledge improved significantly during the intervention. At baseline, their knowledge score was 78%. A week after the education sessions, the athletes in the mobile app group answered on average 87% of the questions correctly and three months later, 86%. In the group without the mobile app, the scores were 85% and 84%, respectively. There was no significant difference between the groups in any sections of the questionnaire. The mean energy intake of the athletes was below the estimated energy expenditure during Study III. The intake of protein and fat met the recommendations for endurance athletes, but the intake of carbohydrates was below them (6–10 g·kg-1·day-1) throughout the study, even though it slightly improved. At the end of the intervention, the athletes in the mobile app group consumed 5.4 g·kg-1·day-1 of carbohydrates and the athletes in the other group 5.0 g·kg-1·day-1. Many psychological, social and economic factors affect what we eat. Improved knowledge does not automatically lead to better food choices if the intention to perform the behavioural change is lacking. The duration of the intervention may also have been too short for notable behavioural changes. In addition, already at the beginning of the study the diet of the athletes was better than that of the general Finnish population, thus leaving less room for dietary improvements. Nutrition knowledge improved after only three education sessions and food diary feedback, but the mobile app did not further improve this learning. Thus, if sport clubs and other sport organizations dedicated even a relatively small amount of time and other resources to structured, targeted, motivational and science-based nutrition education, it may promote positive changes in nutrition knowledge. As athletes make use of the skills they learn during their sports careers in their everyday lives as well as when training other athletes, receiving influential nutrition education could also benefit their performance and health in the future.
  • Tienhaara, Annika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The diversity of agricultural genetic resources (AgGR) is the foundation of food security. A diverse gene pool enables adaptation to changing conditions and is therefore essential, for example, to responding to climate change. However, during the past decades, intensification of agriculture has led to genetic erosion. Previously common animal breeds and plant varieties are becoming rare or extinct throughout the world as they are being replaced with small ranges of more productive specialized breeds and varieties. Yet, indigenous breeds and varieties have a wide range of socio-economic, cultural, ecological and genetic values and, in fact, the importance of conserving genetic resources has been acknowledged in global agreements and national policy programs. Nonetheless, as the resources available for conservation are limited, information on the value of AgGR is needed in order to compare the costs and benefits of conservation and to support decision making. Benefits from the conservation of AgGR can be measured from citizens’ and consumers’ preferences. This dissertation provides new, policy-relevant information on citizens’ and consumers’ willingness to pay for conservation and sustainable use of AgGR. Three stated preference methods were used to examine the value that citizens and consumers place on AgGR. Consumers’ willingness to purchase Finncattle meat and their willingness to pay for it was studied with contingent behavior and contingent valuation methods. In turn, willingness to support a conservation program for AgGR was examined with contingent valuation and choice experiment methods. In addition, heterogeneity in preferences and the effect of information use were analyzed. The results show strong support for the conservation of AgGR. There is a high will-ingness to purchase Finncattle meat among Finnish consumers, and a share of respondents is willing to pay +20-26% more for Finncattle meat compared to conventional meat. Studies also revealed that over 70% of the respondents supported an AgGR conservation program despite the increased cost related to it. Average willingness to pay for the program was €50-170 depending on the method of calculation. However, there was significant heterogeneity among respondents’ preferences. This is important to take into account, as ignoring the heterogeneity can lead to overestimation of benefit estimates. This dissertation provides new information on the benefit estimates of the AgGR conservation in Finland, which has not been studied before. It also contributes to the globally scarce literature on citizens’ and consumers’ preferences related to AgGR. The results of this dissertation can be used in cost–benefit analysis and they can assist in designing optimal AgGR conservation policies.
  • Kulha, Niko (Unigrafia, 2020)
    Global environmental change and other anthropogenic changes, such as changes in disturbance regimes alter the structure and dynamics of boreal old-growth forests. Changes in these forests greatly influence key ecosystem properties such as biodiversity and carbon cycle. Hence, understanding the development of the remaining natural boreal forests is particularly important. This thesis examines how boreal forest structure varies in space and changes over time. Forest structure was examined in three natural boreal forest landscapes in northern Fennoscandia and two landscapes in eastern North America. Canopy cover that was visually interpreted from stereopairs of aerial photographs taken between the years 1959 and 2011 was used as a surrogate measure of forest structure to quantify and examine spatial variation and/or temporal change, and Bayesian inference was used to separate credible ecological phenomena from the noise caused by visual interpretation error. This thesis presents and applies a novel methodology to study changes in forest structure. We calibrated visual canopy cover interpretations made from time series of aerial photographs with canopy cover reconstructions that were based on field- and tree-ring measurements. We successfully identified credible changes in forest structure in each studied landscape, but also noted that the visual interpretation of canopy cover was prone to systematic and random error that depended on, e.g., aerial photo quality. Due to this error, changes that occurred at the level of an individual tree could not be credibly discerned. Still, the methodology can be used to detect both abrupt and slow continuous changes in forest ecosystems. The methodology was extended to examine spatial variation in forest structure. The results revealed variation in forest structure at multiple spatial scales which showed similarities despite the differences in dominant tree species and disturbance regimes between the studied landscapes. The variability was connected with scale-dependent driving processes that also showed similarities among the landscapes. Last, the methodology was applied to study how varying scale of observation influences how changes in forest structure are perceived over different periods of time. This multi-scale change analysis revealed a synchronous and prevalent cover increase at large spatial scales in the majority of the studied landscapes, and canopy cover decrease and increase in areas that were subjects to disturbances. Changes of variable direction and magnitude were detected at smaller spatial scales in each studied landscape. The results indicated that historical aerial photographs are a valuable resource in studying how forest ecosystems develop, but the notable errors in their visual interpretation need to be taken into account in analysis of change. The results aligned with the hierarchy theory and the hierarchical patch dynamics concept by showing that the structure of natural boreal forests vary and change at discernible spatial scales, and showed that these scales can be identified and quantified objectively. While gap- and patch-scale changes were important, the most notable changes occurred at large spatial scales, contradicting the conventional view that changes in the structure of natural boreal forests are mostly due to gap dynamics. This suggests that the studied forests are currently responding to large scale drivers that cause trend-like increase in their canopy cover and consequently in biomass.
  • Lehto, Marja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Fresh-cut vegetables have been cleaned, peeled, chopped, sliced, or diced and then packaged but not heated. The fresh-cut vegetable processing industry uses large volumes of water. This water is utilized by hygiene and cleaning processes and for cooling of the products. Knowledge has been lacking about waters created and the water use in different stages of the fresh-cut vegetable processing. Obtaining information about the water use and waste water production is important for recocnizing critical phases for risk management and for evaluating the need of water treatments. The aim of this study was to improve the processing of fresh-cut vegetables through collecting information on the hygienic level of waters and vegetables, decontamination methods and their efficacy, water use and waste waters which helps companies to improve their processes and self-monitoring activities. One aim of this study was to also evaluate on-farm waste water treatment systems carrying out peeling of vegetables. Water consumption, measured in six fresh-cut processing companies in this study, was 2.0–6.5 m3/t per finished product. The water consumption varied in the same company between months and according to season, volumes of vegetables processed, and the quality of raw material. Through regular measurement of water consumption, it is possible to decrease water use in fresh-cut vegetable processing. In the present study, water consumption decreased by 15% over the course of the three-year period examined. This may decrease costs and improve sustainability of the production. Vegetables contain 90‒96% water; the remainder is composed of components such as carbohydrates, proteins and nutrients. In vegetal cells, water is present in different forms; part of this water can easily be removed and a part cannot. Depending on their size, the substances of which vegetables are composed form different kinds of solutions in combination with water. Most of the organic load and nutrients of the vegetables processed were released into water from the peeling of root vegetables, whereas the volume of the water came primarily from the rinsing and washing of vegetables. Washing is an important step in fresh-cut vegetable processing; it removes soil and debris, and reduces microbial populations residing on the vegetable surface. Washing is often the only step that can remove foreign material and tissue exudates, as well as inactivate pathogens. Water plays a dual role in the fresh-cut vegetable processing: it both reduces and transmits microorganisms to vegetables. The high quality of water used in processing is important, and can be attained through water decontamination or by using new potable water that is changed continuously during the process. The high operational cost of water use has resulted in the industry-wide common practice of the reuse or recirculation of process water. Fresh-cut vegetables may be contaminated by pathogens in different stages and different ways after harvest. Pathogenic microorganisms can cause severe outbreaks of foodborne disease. The microbiological quality of vegetables changes during processing. The total microbial counts in peeled and cut carrots were lower than in whole washed carrots, but higher in grated than in cut carrots. The total microbial count was lower in process water than in wash water of carrots. Pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica was detected in many carrot and water samples by sensitive RT-PCR, but not by the cultivation method. The data concerning treatment of process water of fresh-cut wagetable processing is quite scarce, in particular concerning the effect of treatments on yersinia. Water decontamination methods neutral electrolyzed water (NEW), chlorine dioxide (ClO2), organic acids and UV-C was evaluated, specially on yersinia, E. coli and Candida lambica (yeast) in this study. The effect of decontamination on different microbes in water differs with, e.g., time, concentration, decontamination method, and turbidity of water. Technically- and economically effective chlorine-alternative decontamination technologies are the goal of the fresh-cut industry. In Finland, and in many other EU countries as well, chemical treatments of vegetable process waters are restricted in food legislation, but allowed in other countries. Published information concerning the functioning and feasibility of small on-farm waste water treatment plants are few. Waste water generated from vegetable production contains high concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids (SS). One aim of this study was to evaluate on-farm waste water treatment systems carrying out peeling of vegetables. Primary treatments of waste water remove coarse solids, reduce organic matter content and adjust pH. Secondary, biological, wastewater treatment removes soluble organic matter and nutrients from water. Biological waste water treatment, such as a sequencing batch reactor or a trickling filter, are used for treating of vegetable processing waste water in small scale companies in rural areas. In the case of both systems, the requirements set in legislation were met. Tertiary treatment can be used if waste water is reused in subsequent vegetable processing or recycled for irrigation of food crops. Fresh-cut vegetable processing companies produce high-quality fresh-cut produce with appropriate inputs and processes. Each company must establish its own specific validation protocols for evaluating their processes. The aim is to minimize the risks and produce healthy, safe, fresh and easy-to-use vegetables for consumers.
  • Karambiri, Mawa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Democracy as the government of the people by the people and for the people, equally represented is one of the most contested claims worldwide yet cherished by many and associated with a universal human right. The word “democracy” did not appear in the global participatory forest policy i.e., the shifting of global forest paradigm toward more participation in the 1970s. However, one of the core ideas of democracy, namely the right of local people to participate in the decision making over the use and management of their forest resources underpinned the policy proposal. Donors and international development agencies subscribed to these principles and aimed to translate them into local contexts. Likewise, central government in sub-Sahara Africa, specifically in Burkina Faso undertook political decentralization reforms and participatory forest management programmes to implement these principles of inclusion and self-determination at the local level. However, in practice, participatory forest policy and decentralization still await an effective devolution of decision-making authority to local people and the improvement of their livelihoods. In addition, the state and non-state policy translators as above continue to choose processes, plan and implement environmental projects, often in partnerships with other than the democratically elected bodies. In doing so, they risk privatizing common resources, undermine democratization, shrink the public domain and limit citizenship and the spaces available for local people’s engagement in forest management. While literature exists on those issues, it remains unclear how these three dimensions of local democracy i.e., representation, citizenship and public domain operate under environmental interventions in the context of Burkina Faso. Therefore, I ask how participatory forest policy is translated at the local level in sub-Sahara Africa, specifically in Burkina Faso. How do the translation processes influence local democracy? I adopted a policy translation perspective and the theoretical lens of the “choice and recognition” framework to assess the democracy effects of forestry interventions namely on local peoples’ representation, citizenship and the public domain. I investigated these three components of local democracy through four articles included in this dissertation using qualitative research methods. The results showed that in Burkina Faso, global forest policy was translated at the local level through political decentralization reforms and participatory forestry projects. The choices of local institutions made by the project implementers influenced the substantive representation of local people’s interests and the effectiveness of forest restoration outcomes (Article II). The forestry interventions unintentionally produced uneven forms of citizenship, turning citizens into denizens i.e., those whose citizenships was revoked (Article III). Lastly, Articles IV and I depicted the multi-layered and complex dynamics in the public domain, continually contested by both customary and post-colonial state logics. From the findings, it can be inferred that participatory forestry has the potential to strengthen local democracy through political decentralisation. However, the current policy translation processes can undermine democratisation. Thus, I recommend to more systematically pay attention and integrate indicators of local democracy when trying to apply global forest policies in a local context.
  • Nathanail, Alexis (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Fungi are capable of producing an array of heterogenous toxic secondary metabolites, i.e. mycotoxins, which may acutely or chronically impact human and animal health following the consumption of contaminated agricultural commodities. Mycotoxins, like most xenobiotics, are prone to structural alterations via metabolic processes in living organisms but can also undergo changes during food manufacturing. The resulting compounds, defined as “modified mycotoxins”, possess distinct chemical properties, with potentially unique toxicological characteristics, and often coexist with their precursor forms in food- and feedstuffs. The impetus of this Ph.D. thesis largely stems from the dearth of evidence available on these compounds and aspires to contribute evidence for addressing the underlying debate: Are modified mycotoxins relevant to food/feed safety? In this context, liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometric methods, employing fit-for-purpose sample preparation approaches, were developed and validated for the simultaneous determination of Fusarium mycotoxins and their modified forms. At first, conventional sample preparation techniques commonly utilised in mycotoxin analyses were evaluated against automated on-line sample clean-up. On-line clean-up and the standard “extract and shoot” approach offered optimal overall performance and achieved compliance with legislative criteria. The natural occurrence of the Fusarium mycotoxins HT-2 toxin, T-2 toxin, deoxynivalenol, nivalenol, zearalenone and derivatives thereof was investigated by conducting a nationwide survey of Finnish barley, oats and wheat grains. Deoxynivalenol was the most abundant mycotoxin (in 93% of the cereal samples), and at unusually high levels compared to adjacent years, followed by the modified mycotoxin deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside (81%). All 10 additional modified mycotoxins included in the method were detectable at widely varying concentrations. The relative proportions of modified/parent mycotoxins were mostly between 15–55%. Furthermore, the metabolism of HT-2 toxin and T-2 toxin was studied in barley and wheat. Specifically, tracing of their metabolism was accomplished by untargeted metabolomics based on stable isotopic labelling and liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry. Structural elucidation of the detected compounds indicated the presence of several novel modified mycotoxins, including glucoside, malonyl-glucoside, acetyl and feruloyl conjugates of the parent toxins. Time course kinetics of the in planta metabolites revealed the HT-2 toxin-3-glucoside as the primary detoxification product, which was rapidly formed in both crops. The experiments also determined the extent of metabolism of the parent toxins, while highlighting those modified forms present at harvest. Lastly, the metabolic fate of HT-2 toxin, T-2 toxin, deoxynivalenol and deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside was investigated during a four-day beer brewing fermentation with lager yeast. Yeast tolerated high toxin levels and was able to remove 9–34% of dosed toxins from wort by adsorption and/or biotransformation. The original contribution of this work can be summarised as the discovery of several novel modified Fusarium mycotoxins and related metabolic pathways, generation of essential natural occurrence data and gaining of further insight into mycotoxin-plant/fungal interactions, all of which were facilitated by state-of-the-art analytical tools.
  • Rissanen, Kaisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Trees have various mechanisms for avoiding and mitigating biotic and abiotic stresses. Resin is one such mechanism, and it is essential for conifer trees. Conifer resin is also a large pool of monoterpenes that – similarly to other biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) produced by plants, e.g. methanol, acetone and acetaldehyde – play important roles in tree signalling and atmospheric chemistry once emitted to ambient air. BVOC emissions from various tree parts and resin dynamics depend on environmental variables, with intrinsic effects on conifer defence. This thesis aims to clarify the environmental and physiological drivers of resin dynamics and BVOC emissions from the shoots and stem of mature boreal Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) in field conditions, with special attention given to the effect of tree water relations. Resin pressure dynamics were studied using pressure transducers and BVOC emissions using an online mass spectrometer and dynamic chamber system. Resin and monoterpene emission compositions were analysed based on gas chromatography measurements. Temperature explained resin pressures and BVOC emissions from both the shoots and stems of Scots pine in the short term. Over a longer period, resin pressures and stem monoterpene emissions decreased with decreasing soil water availability and water potential in stem. In addition, the emission dynamics of water-soluble acetaldehyde, methanol, and acetone from the shoots and stem were connected to transpiration rate and soil water content, indicating an important effect of their transport in the xylem sap. These results show that although often overlooked, tree stems are an important source of BVOCs and that even relatively small changes in water availability may alter BVOC and resin dynamics despite their strong short-term temperature control. This information may help to understand the potential susceptibility of conifer trees to biotic stresses in various environmental conditions and improve BVOC emission modelling by accounting for stem emission dynamics.
  • Malkamäki, Arttu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Because of the pace and magnitude of land cover change, terrestrial ecosystems across the globe are under unprecedented pressure. Industrial production of wood in large-scale tree plantations is one of the drivers of this change. The development of funds of natural capital on private lands for marketable commodities, however, often comes at the expense of other non-marketable benefits that people derive from ecosystems. The disturbances to existing ecosystems and social systems caused by the establishment of plantations can be drastic. Identifying factors that foster and impede actors and institutions to solve problems and address injustices thus becomes crucial for advancing sustainability through changes in policies and practices. This dissertation synthesises findings from four articles. It takes on the task of filling two gaps in the previous scholarly literature: the first concerning the human impacts of large-scale tree plantations (articles I and II); the second concerning the different institutions that shape their governance (articles III and IV). It also brings these contributions together under a framework for empirical analysis, which combines and structures key concepts of environmental social sciences ranging from systems ecology to sociology. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have been used in the four articles. Article I presents the findings from a systematic review of the impacts of large-scale tree plantations for local communities. The review shows that impacts are frequently grounded in the process of land acquisition for plantations and the subsequent loss of livelihoods. Plantations have often caused more losses of livelihoods than created jobs. Article I also identifies gaps in the evidence base. Article II applies the concept of resilience and qualitative content analysis to analyse the Uruguayan beekeepers’ experiences of and responses to land cover change to plantations. The results show that the community faces this change as multiple interlinked challenges (e.g., lower honey yields and higher costs), to which they generally have a limited capacity to adapt. Both articles III and IV use data from the domain of South African tree plantation policy. Based on an analysis of policy beliefs, the former identifies two competing coalitions: a dominant business-as-usual coalition, of which ideas a minority justice and change coalition challenges. Article III also clarifies the role that beliefs concerning specific policy instruments play in coalition formation. Article IV focuses on policy learning – the acquisition and dissemination of information between actors with diverse knowledge. It tests hypotheses concerning actors’ information exchange behaviour and finds that actors tend to exchange information and build trust with those who think alike. However, its findings support the idea that co-participation in policy forums enables policy learning. Large-scale tree plantations have often caused negative impacts for local communities. The unfolding of impacts, however, also depends on the context (e.g., land use rights). The impacts are in many ways rooted in the governance of plantations, the dynamics of which can be better understood through coalition formation and policy learning.
  • Yang, Zhen (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Role of lipid-modifying enzymes in oat and faba bean Increasing utilization of plant materials and especially their proteins is a global trend. One of the challenges in using grains and legumes as sources of protein is the off-flavour that is associated with them. Many of the undesirable flavour compounds are formed from lipids as a result of complex enzymatic and chemical reactions. To understand and control lipid-modifying enzymes is essential to prolong the shelf life of cereal and legume ingredients and products, and raise consumer acceptance towards them. The aim of this thesis was to study the role of lipid-modifying enzymes in oat and faba bean. To reach this aim, the levels of and variations in the lipid-modifying enzyme activities present in oat and faba bean seeds from selected cultivars and cultivation years were studied (Study I). In addition, the formation of non-volatile oxidised fatty acids (NVOFAs) by lipid-modifying enzymes in oat was investigated (Study II). Finally, the role of lipid-modifying enzymes in the formation of volatile off-flavour compounds in faba bean foods was studied (Study III). The results of Study I showed the presence of marked lipase and peroxygenase activities oat, while lipase and lipoxygenase (LOX) activities occurred in faba bean. The enzyme activities were affected by sample cultivars and cultivation years. Lipase activity in faba bean was surprisingly high, and it could effectively start lipid-derived off-flavour formation as soon as the seed structure is broken and it has access to inherent or added lipids as substrates. Study II showed that NVOFAs occurred in the flours of non-heat treated oat grains, and their amounts increased remarkably during the storage of oat samples. The formation of NVOFAs was in line with the release of free fatty acids by oat lipase. In addition, the formation of NVOFAs in the flour of heat-treated oat grains was quite small. In the third study, the optimum pH of faba bean lipase was found at 7.5-8, and for LOX the optimum pH was at 6. The LOX pathway produced various types and amounts of volatile lipid oxidation products using different substrates. In addition, adding rapeseed oil in emulsions increased the formation of volatile lipid oxidation products, and adding rapeseed oil fatty acids increased it even more. This study also showed that the pH levels greatly affected the extent of the reactions. Overall, this thesis evaluated the role of reactions catalysed by lipid-modifying enzymes together with chemical lipid oxidation for their potential to form lipid-derived off-flavours in oat and faba bean. The lipid-modifying enzymes should be properly inactivated to prevent the causing of potential problems. By studying comprehensively the lipid modifying enzymes, we are able to produce knowledge which assists in developing high-quality oat and faba bean based foods.
  • Arte, Elisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Wheat is the world’s most important staple food, providing one-fifth of the daily protein consumed globally. However, the majority of wheat is used as refined flour, in which the nutritionally superior bran layers and germ are removed during milling, thus producing yearly a massive amount of underutilised food side streams. Better exploitation of the side streams and development of new plant-based protein ingredients are required to ensure the future global demand for food protein. This study aimed to examine hydrolytic enzymes and lactic acid fermentation as tools to improve the bioavailability, nutritional quality and technological properties of wheat bran proteins for food applications. The study showed that proteolytic activity, either by endogenous or exogenous enzymes, was crucial for increasing protein liberation and solubilisation from wheat bran, whereas microbial activity was required for improving the nutritional quality of the proteins. The application of commercial carbohydrases or proteases was able to either solubilise the bran cell walls or the proteins from the residues of endosperm in bran but was not effective in liberating proteins within aleurone cells. The endogenous enzymes of wheat bran, activated by chemical acidification, increased the protein solubilisation up to 75% with a simultaneous increase in in vitro protein digestibility (from 14% to 20%). However, bioprocessing by lactic acid bacteria (LAB), yeast and cell wall-degrading enzymes (Depol 761P and Viscoferm) was found as the most beneficial and microbiologically safe method to improve the solubilisation and nutritional quality of bran proteins. This bioprocessing meth-od resulted in a protein solubilisation of 52% and significantly improved the in vitro protein digestibility to 39%. In this work, the bioprocessing of wheat bran by LAB and yeast, with and without cell wall-degrading enzymes and phytase prior to the production of protein isolates, was found to influence the biochemical and technological properties of the bran proteins. The bioprocessed protein isolates had significantly higher protein content (80%), presumably due to the degradation of starch and soluble arabinoxylans during the bioprocessing. In general, the bioprocessing of bran resulted in a lower protein solubilisation of the protein isolates and had no influence on the emulsifying properties of the isolates in oil-in-water emulsions. However, bioprocessing by lactic acid fermentation together with cell wall-degrading enzymes almost doubled the foaming stability. Furthermore, wheat breads were made by substituting 20% of the total energy by proteins from the isolates. Wheat breads enriched with the lactic acid fermented bran protein isolate was found to have the most optimal technological characteristics, showing delayed staling and lower firmness during four days’ storage in comparison to bread enriched with a protein isolate produced without bioprocessing. In conclusion, by utilising lactic acid fermentation in combination with selected hydrolytic enzymes, the aleurone cell walls can be degraded and the proteins liberated for microbial modification, leading to improved protein bioavailability, nutritional quality and technological functionality. This study is the first to show the potential of using bioprocessing for the development of new wheat bran-based protein ingredient for food applications.
  • Pokki, Heidi (2019)
    Fish stocks in the Baltic Sea are an important natural resource for Finland; targeted by both commercial and recreational fishermen. Fisheries managers require data on the economic value of commercial and recreational fisheries for decision making and to assess the economic sustainability of fisheries. The volume of recreational catch of salmon in Finland is greater than the volume of commercial catch. However, there is marginally information available on the recreational value of salmon angling. These data deficiencies hinder the possibility of fishery managers to make optimal regulatory decisions concerning fish stocks. Additionally, the angler preferences and related angler profiles should be consid-ered in the decision making process as the reaction to different management measures can vary considerably depending on the angler type. This thesis contributes to the alleviation of the existing data deficiencies by contributing knowledge on the economic state of marine commercial fisheries and on the economic value of salmon angling. Defining an economic value is often ambiguous as the valuation methods involve inaccuracies which affect the reliability of the estimates. Therefore, it would be benefi-cial for the data end users to understand the consequences of the choices made in the estimation process in order to interpret the results correctly for decision making. In this thesis, the application of two different valuation methods: the perpetual in-ventory method and the travel cost method is described for defining the value of capital and recreational fishing in Finland. The perpetual inventory method is applied for estimating the capital value of the marine commercial fishing fleet of Finland. The thesis describes the justification for the choices made in the estimation process and how these choices affect the results. In addition, the differences between economic and financial analysis are discussed. Moreover, the thesis describes the value estimation of salmon angling in the River Teno and the River Tornionjoki employing the travel cost method. The studies use a two-step estimation procedure, which considers the potential endogeneity of on-site time per fishing trip. The case study of salmon angling in the River Tornionjoki explores the influence of angler profiles on the fishing behavior; the length of a fishing trip and the number of trips taken. The results show that the importance of increasing catch rate for the recreational benefit obtained by the angler is smaller than expected and the importance of salmon catch differs between the Teno and Tornionjoki rivers. In the River Teno, the experience of catching salmon in the previous season increased, on average, the number of fishing trips during the following season. In the River Tornionjoki the higher catch rate reduced the average number of fishing trips and the length of a trip during the season. The results presented in this thesis can be utilized for e.g. bio-economic modeling, assessing the sustainability of commercial fisheries of Finland, evaluating the implementation of EU common fisheries policy, and defining river specific fishing regulations.
  • Mukrimin, Mukrimin (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Forests are the hotspots of Earth’s biodiversity, providing habitats to animals and resources to humans, protecting watersheds, preventing soil degradation, and mitigating climate change. In fact, forest disturbance is mainly caused by biotic and abiotic stresses, which affect both the primary metabolic components required for growth, development, and reproduction and secondary metabolites (defense-related chemical compounds) of trees. In the Northern Hemisphere, including Finland, members of the fungal group Heterobasidion annosum species complex are the most important pathogens of conifer trees causing serious economic losses for forest industries. The existing control and management strategies against this pathogen do not lead to 100% protection. To gain better insights and knowledge of Heterobasidion–conifer tree interactions, I investigated the impact of pathogen infection on the resident mycobiota in naturally infected trees as well as performed an analysis of fungal community structure under field conditions. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) analysis was also performed to discriminate between asymptomatic and symptomatic trees. In a parallel study, I investigated the genetic variants that could be associated with the control of necrotic lesions caused by H. parviporum inoculation among selected clonal lines of Norway spruce. Additionally, the expression level of a subset of selected genes involved in terpene, stilbene and flavonoid biosynthesis and programmed cell death in Scots pine trees with varying levels of resistance was further assessed. Mycobiome analysis demonstrated significant differences in the structure of fungal communities residing within symptomatic and asymptomatic Norway spruce trees. The results provided novel insight into the interactions between fungal plant pathogens and resident plant mycobiota. The FT-IR spectroscopy analysis was able to discriminate between symptomatic and asymptomatic Heterobasidion-infected Norway spruce trees. Other findings in terms of genetic and chemical markers revealed ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with eight genes. The identified SNPs were significantly associated with larger lesions in response to H. parviporum inoculation in Norway spruce saplings. In Scots pine, genes with higher expression levels predicted to encode α-pinene synthase, geranyl diphosphate synthase (GPPS), and metacaspase 5 (MC5) were associated with trees exhibiting high levels of necrotic lesion formation in response to fungal inoculation. Concentrations of two terpenoid compounds (β-caryophyllene and α-humulene) were significantly negatively correlated with lesion size. These results can be used in further studies to elucidate potential biomarkers in conifer tree genetic resistance research. Keywords: Heterobasidion, Norway spruce, Scots pine, tree-pathogen interactions, mycobiome analysis, FT-IR spectroscopy, gene expression, terpenoid, chemical markers
  • Saikkonen, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    This dissertation examines the economics of agricultural production and related environmental externalities. In the context of this study, environmental externalities are market failures caused by unintentional outputs of agricultural production. These outputs may be characterized as public goods/bads and they are approached using a joint production framework. The examined externalities are biodiversity benefits, nutrient runoff damages, and costs related to greenhouse gas (henceforth GHG) emissions and climate change. The main objective of this thesis is to study the welfare impacts of the production of different agricultural commodities, especially bioenergy, and agricultural production methods, when environmental externalities are taken into account. Also the costs of increasing or decreasing the unintended environmental public goods or bads causing the externalities are examined. The dissertation consists of an introductory article and four separate studies. In the first three studies, the focus is both on optimization of agricultural joint production systems, and on studying the welfare and environmental impacts of different policies. The last paper examines a case where a public environmental bad,namely climate change, of other anthropocentric/economic activities impacts agricultural production and thus it serves as an input factor of agricultural production. The dissertation shows that the scope of an agricultural externality often depends on local characteristics and underlying assumptions, such as those related to land use, the existence of adaptation measures, and the utility and damage functions. The studies also indicate that policies targeted to agri-environmental externalities should be designed holistically for example by taking into account entire landscapes or sectors, but at thesame time by relying on heterogenous policies within these entities.
  • Adebayo, Folasade Abiola (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Diet is an indicator of health and chronic disease. Food consumption patterns of a particular population may define their nutrient intake, including vitamin D, revealing their health profiles. The food consumption patterns among immigrants often differ from those of the host population, and health inequalities exist between these two groups. Vitamin D insufficiency (S-25(OH)D <50 nmol/L), which has been associated with bone disorders, such as osteoporosis, and risk for cancers and other chronic diseases, is a public health problem among populations at northern latitudes, especially during winter because of low ultraviolet B irradiation and reduced skin synthesis of vitamin D. Nevertheless, the risk of vitamin D insufficiency is higher among non-Western immigrants, particularly dark-skinned ones, living in these regions. In the Nordic countries, vitamin D status in the majority of the host populations seems to be better than that of immigrants. This study seeks insights into immigrants’ nutrition with the aims of examining food consumption and vitamin D status among immigrants of Russian, Somali, and Kurdish background. The study also aimed to investigate whether ethnic differences exist in the response of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25(OH)D) to vitamin D3 supplementation between Somali and Finnish women. The thesis was based on three datasets: i) a cross-sectional population-based Migrant Health and Wellbeing Study (Maamu Study), ii) the nationally representative Finnish Health 2011 Survey (Health 2011), and iii) the randomized controlled trial Marwo-D intervention study. Study I (n=1372) comprised immigrant participants aged 18-64 years from the Maamu Study. Healthy food consumption frequencies were evaluated among 527 Russian, 337 Somali, and 508 Kurdish men and women, through dietary questions in interviews. Data on socio-demographic factors were obtained from a sampling frame and through interviews. Potential socio-demographic determinants of healthy food consumption were assessed by logistic regression. Immigrants of Russian background more frequently consumed healthy foods, especially rye bread, vegetables, fruits, and berries, than Kurds and Somalis. Female sex, older age, and higher education were positively associated with healthy food consumption. Low consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits and berries was observed among Somali immigrants. In Study II, the S-25(OH)D concentrations of 1310 immigrants (446 Russians, 364 Somalis, and 500 Kurds) aged 18-64 years from the Maamu Study and a Finnish reference group aged 30-64 years from the Health 2011 Survey (n=798) were standardized according to the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Data on socio-demographic, lifestyle, and dietary habits were obtained from a sampling frame and through structured interviews or through a self-administered health questionnaire. Vitamin D status (S-25(OH)D) of the immigrant groups was analysed relative to the Finnish reference group through linear regression. The consumption of dietary vitamin D sources and the potential socio-demographic, lifestyle, and dietary determinants of low vitamin D status i.e. deficiency (S-25(OH)D <30 nmol/L) and insufficiency (<50 nmol/L), were evaluated with logistic regression analyses. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency was higher among the immigrants, especially Somalis and Kurds, than among the Finns (p<0.001). Consumption of vitamin D-rich foods differed between the immigrant groups; vitamin D-fortified fat spread was commonly used by a higher proportion of Somalis than Russians and Kurds; fish consumption was less frequent among Kurds than among Russians and Somalis; and higher proportions of Russians and Kurds consumed vitamin D-fortified dairy daily than Somalis (p<0.001 for all). The main determinants of low S-25(OH)D concentration were daily smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and winter blood sampling (p≤0.04). Older age, physical activity, consumption of fish, vitamin D-fortified fat spread, and dairy products, and use of vitamin D supplements were associated with reduced odds of low S-25(OH)D concentration (p≤0.04). In Study III, 191 subjects were screened and 147 women (Somali n=72, Finns n=75) aged 21-64 years were randomized to receive placebo or 10 or 20 µg vitamin D3/d in a 5-month trial during winter in the Helsinki area (60oN). S-25(OH)D concentrations were assessed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Background and dietary data were collected through a detailed questionnaire and a validated semi-quantitative interview-administered food frequency questionnaire. Response of S-25(OH)D to vitamin D3 supplementation was assessed with repeated-measures analysis of covariance. Vitamin D status (S-25(OH)D) and vitamin D intake from diet and supplements were analysed. High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency was observed among Somali women at screening. Interestingly, total vitamin D intake was higher among Somalis, but their baseline mean S-25(OH)D concentrations were lower than among Finns (p<0.001 and p=0.001, respectively). Moderate vitamin D3 supplementation at doses of 10 µg and 20 µg effectively increased mean S-25(OH)D in both Somali and Finnish women, without ethnic differences in the response to supplementation (p>0.05). In conclusion, food consumption patterns among immigrants with Russian, Somali, and Kurdish background were not similar. Healthy foods, particularly rye bread, vegetables, fruits, and berries, were consumed more by Russian immigrants than by participants with Kurdish and Somali background. Frequent consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits and berries was uncommon among Somalis. Higher consumption frequency of the healthy foods was associated with some socio-demographic factors, namely female sex, older age, and higher education. Likewise, differences existed in the consumption of vitamin D-rich foods between the immigrant groups. Use of vitamin D-fortified fat spread was more frequent among Somalis than among Russians and Kurds; fish consumption frequency was lower among Kurds than among Russians and Somalis; and vitamin D-fortified dairy was more frequently consumed daily by Russians and Kurds than by Somalis. The extent of the risk of low vitamin D status also differed between immigrant groups; higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency was observed among Somalis and Kurds than among Russians. Hence, the immigrant groups cannot be considered a homogeneous group. In addition, non-fair-skinned immigrants are at higher risk of deficiency/insufficiency than their host populations. This thesis demonstrated that moderate vitamin D3 supplementation was effective in increasing S-25(OH)D in both Somali and Finnish women, and supports previous findings that ethnicity has no effect on the response of S-25(OH)D to vitamin D supplementation. Promotion of healthy food consumption patterns, including fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and vitamin D-rich foods, is essential among immigrant groups to improve overall health.
  • Belachew, Kiflemariam Yehuala (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Background. Abiotic stresses affect the productivity and the evolutionary pathway of adaptation in crops in different agricultural regions. Soil acidity and drought are two major abiotic stresses, when severe, reduce the suitability of fertile lands for crop production, and when moderate, reduce yield and often quality. Faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is sensitive to acidity, aluminium toxicity and limitation of soil moisture, and these stresses greatly reduce the yield potential and stability of the crop. The overall objectives of this study were to investigate complementarity in shoot and root morphological and physiological phenotypic markers to acid soil and drought adaptation in pre-flowering faba bean plants, and to identify sources of tolerance for further breeding work. These objectives were tested in light of four hypotheses: acid zone germplasm would have higher acid and Al3+ tolerance index than other germplasm (publication I); dry-zone germplasm would have more prolific root systems than wet-zone germplasm (publication II); dry-zone germplasm would maintain its root system growth better in drought than wet-zone germplasm would (publication II); and drought avoidance is based on a combination of leaf gas exchange and exploitation of soil water (publication III). Materials and Methods. Multiple sets of faba bean accessions were chosen based on their expected exposure to acidity, aluminium, or drought stresses in their regions of provenance, and based on previous research data and reports. Experiments were established in aquaponic, peat and perlite media in controlled/environment growth chambers, greenhouses and a robotic phenotyping facility to evaluate the performance of a range of faba bean accessions in acid, aluminium, and watering treatments. Key root and shoot data were collected and analysed. Results and Discussion. Acidity and Al3+-toxicity treatments were sufficiently strong to initiate detectable variation in root length, stain score and Al3+ tolerance index, SPAD value, stomatal conductance, biomass and leaf area in solution culture, peat, and perlite experiments. Roots behaved differently in response to pH and Al3+ treatment differences. Al-tolerant accessions showed contrasting shoot Al content, indicating multiple Al tolerance mechanisms in faba bean. The results of acid tolerance index in aquaponic and perlite media experiments were positively correlated. Trait expression complementarity and variability were observed across the experiments owing to differences in growth media. Accessions differed in root regrowth length in solution culture and in SPAD values and taproot length in perlite medium to changing pH and Al3+ concentrations as shown by accession by treatment interactions. Root tolerance index, root regrowth length, and SPAD values were found to be largely informative traits in solution culture, and peat and perlite pot experiments. In aquaponics experiment, 41 µmol/l Al3+ was not informative, 82 µmol/l Al3+ was informative, 123 µmol/l Al3+ was severe. As a result, 82 µmol/l Al3+ was used in the next peat and perlite experiments. However, 82 µmol/l Al3+ was found to be less informative in peat experiment, hence 123 µmol/l Al3+ could be recommended for selection of outstanding accessions in solid media. Overall, accessions responded to acid and Al3+ treatments independently. Cultivars Aurora and Messay were found to be Al3+ tolerant but acid sensitive; Kassa and GLA 1103 acid tolerant, but Al3+-sensitive; NC 58 and Dosha were tolerant to both Al3+ and acidity, while Babylon was sensitive to both. Aquaponic media for mass screening and perlite media for verification experiments were found to be convenient (publication I). Screening of germplasm for drought was successfully conducted in a perlite-based pot experiment, which allowed quicker screening of a large set of materials and enabled detection of variation in constitutive traits among accessions. Use of the GROWSCREEN Rhizo phenotyping facility allowed detection of useful differences between treatments and among accessions. In both the screening and phenotyping drought experiments, accessions originating from the drier regions of the world showed drought avoidance behaviour thereby confirming FIGS as a valuable strategy (publication II and III). In germplasm screening, root and shoot dry mass and their fractions, along with SPAD value provided useful information in discriminating accessions with potential drought-avoidance characteristics. In the phenotyping experiment, root traits were strongly and positively correlated with each other and with shoot traits, but these correlations indicated specific plasticity of traits with watering treatments (publication III). In the well watered treatment, total dry mass was correlated with root length traits, whereas in the water-limited treatment, it was correlated with root width and convex hull area. Apparent root length density was positively correlated with second order lateral root length in the well watered treatment and with apparent specific root length in water limited treatment, indicating high surface area to volume ratio to maximize water absorption is a key strategy in droughted condition. In the water-limited treatment, root traits contributing to drought avoidance such as lateral root length and root system depth, convex hull area and root system width, and apparent root length density (publication II and III) were positively associated with shoot traits such as total dry mass, leaf number, and leaf mass fraction reported in publication III. Accession DS70622 exhibited deeper and wider growing roots that filled the root system volume with long and thin laterals. The larger root system combined with moderately high total dry mass and stomatal conductance endorsed this accession as a potential drought-avoiding candidate by effective use of water suitable in transient droughts. Accessions such as DS11320 and ILB938/2 that combined a large and thick root system with low root length density, low specific root length and low stomatal conductance can be recommended as potential sources of drought-avoiding traits by improved water use efficiency suitable in terminal droughts. Future research directions on the development of multiple abiotic stress tolerant cultivars enables climate change resilience in crops. Most acid soils are subject to Al3+-toxicity, and drought can occur on this soils as it occurs in others. Hence, multiple stress tolerance traits, mechanisms and QTLs need to be investigated in faba bean to identify host accessions with multiple tolerance to Al3+ and drought stresses for breeding of high yielding materials.
  • Wang, Jinhui (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The phloem-limited bacterial pathogen ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ is known to cause several economically important plant diseases. Among the distinct haplotypes in ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’, haplotypes A and B are associated with zebra chip disease in potato, haplotype C is associated with carrot yellowing disease, and haplotypes D and E are associated with disease in carrot and celery. However, the vector-transmitted and unculturable nature of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ has limited the use of many conventional microbiological methods and advanced molecular biological techniques. Current understanding of the pathogenesis of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ and the pathophysiology of infected host plants is still very limited. In this study, a series of experiments were designed and implemented to improve our understanding of those aspects. Multi-omic approaches, high-throughput sequencing technologies and bioinformatic analysis were fully integrated in this research. Metagenomic sequencing was applied to obtain the genome sequence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ haplotype C in Finland. Two draft genome sequences of haplotype C, FIN114 (1.24 Mbp) and FIN111 (1.20 Mbp), were obtained from carrot psyllids (Trioza apicalis) harbouring ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’. Genome comparison between haplotypes A, B and C revealed that prophages were involved in most of the genome rearrangement events. Comparison of the gene content between haplotypes revealed that the core and pan-genomes of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ consisted of 885 and 1327 orthologue groups, respectively. Orthologue groups putatively involved in host specificity associated with a certain haplotype were also identified. Twenty-seven orthologue groups were only present in haplotype C, while 11 orthologue groups shared by haplotypes A and B were absent from haplotype C. Based on the obtained genomic sequences, a finer genotyping system was designed and applied to the study of genetic variations of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ in Finland. Two sub-clades of haplotype C were characterized through the MLST approach. One sub-clade was associated with T. anthrisci and its primary host, Anthriscus sylvestris, and the other sub-clade was associated with T. apicalis and carrot. A novel haplotype was identified in the psyllid T. urticae and the stinging nettle Urtica dioica in Finland, named haplotype U. This was the first study to identify the presence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ in the family Urticaceae. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that haplotype U was closely related to A and D and haplotype D was more closely related to A than to C. Dual RNA-Seq was applied to study the interaction between ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ haplotype C and carrot plants at 4, 5 and 9 weeks after inoculation. ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ infection significantly suppressed many genes involved in photosynthesis and chloroplast function, while genes related to defence response and phenolic compounds were up-regulated. A gene encoding the master regulator HY5 was constantly down-regulated in all the infected samples. Many genes involved in jasmonate biosynthesis were up-regulated in the infected samples, while genes related to the biosynthesis of other plant hormones showed complex differential expression at different time points. However, ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ infection seemed to have a sustained impact on the expression of the key regulators of plant hormone signalling. Key regulators such as JAZs in jasmonate signalling, CTR1 in ethylene signalling and PP2Cs in abscisic acid signalling were all significantly altered by the infection. The bacterial gene encoding salicylate hydroxylase showed stable expression in ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ at all the time points, which suggests that the bacteria were able to reduce the concentration of salicyclic acid in the host carrot plants. The proliferation of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ was very active at the early time point, as indicated by the high expression levels of genes related to the basic bacterial cell cycle, including replication, transcription and translation. ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ appeared to have reduced mobility and increased adherence at the late time point examined, as the Flp pilus genes were expressed at high levels. A major change in the use of energy sources was identified between the early and late time points in ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’. A gene involved in the uptake of ATP was more actively expressed at the early time point, whereas genes related to the uptake and metabolism of C4-dicarboxylate were more actively expressed at the late time point, suggesting an adjustment in the acquisition and utilization of energy and carbon sources. This study provides novel information about the genome structure and genetic differences of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ and its interactions with its host plant.
  • Pavicic, Mirko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) is an ATP dependent pathway for targeted protein degradation. The role of UPS is to maintain a healthy protein balance in the cell and to mediate activation and repression of plant developmental processes, hormones and other signalling cascades as well as responses to environmental perturbations. The UPS is composed of several actors, the most important of them being the ubiquitin E3 ligases, which are responsible for providing the specificity for substrate recognition. About 5% of Arabidopsis thaliana genome encodes for ubiquitin E3 ligase genes (~1.400), classified in seven different subgroups, among which the second most abundant group is the RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligase family with nearly 500 members. More than half of the RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligase genes are uncharacterised. Those that are characterized demonstrate their multi-target ability which implies additional roles and cross-reactivity with other pathways. With the emergence of high throughput sequencing, improved Arabidopsis genome assemblies are available and there is a constantly growing amount of transcriptomics data available for the RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligase genes that link them to different developmental stages and perturbations. However, only few of these genes have been associated phenotypically with these processes. Our first aim was to use reverse genetics approach to rescreen Arabidopsis genome in order to update the number of annotated RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligase genes. We further aimed to develop a set of image-based phenotyping methods to systematically assign them in their signalling cascades and developmental pathways, and to functionally characterize the identified molecular networks of the RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases and their substrates. This study revealed 50 new RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases genes, while 31 earlier annotated genes were excluded, giving a total new count of 509 RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases genes. RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases were then assigned to different developmental, hormonal and/or perturbation related pathways, based on their gene expression profiles. To allow systematic and efficient functional confirmation of these associations in plants, protocols for image-based high throughput phenotypic assays were established. In these assays, the associated knockout lines were studied for rosette shape and growth, cotyledon emergence as a proxy for germination analysis, and Botrytis cinerea symptom progression. These phenotypic screens confirmed 36 flower enriched RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases, 11 of which were associated to flowering, three rosette and one sepal development. Four of them responded negatively and one positively to ABA treatment at germination. Furthermore, ten RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases were associated with Botrytis responses, with one characterised at molecular level. Collectively, the results of this study demonstrated the versatility and pleiotropy of RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligases and set the foundation for a systematic screening of phenotypes regulated by UPS components.
  • Salih, Enass Yousif Abdelkarim (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    A variety of tree species, belonging to the genera Combretum, Anogeissus and Terminalia (Combretaceae) are well known for their uses in African traditional medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases and wounds. In this study, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Terminalia brownii and Terminalia laxiflora were selected based on ethnopharmacological information for in-depth studies on their antimicrobial effects and phytochemical constituents. The mentioned species were collected from the Blue Nile and Kordofan regions in Sudan. The main objectives of this research were (1) to perform ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological documentation of the medicinal plants found in the study areas in Sudan, (2) to study the in vitro antibacterial and antifungal effects of extracts, obtained from A. leiocarpus, T. brownii and T. laxiflora, (3) to elucidate the chemical structures of compounds in extracts with promising antimicrobial activity and to (4) isolate fractions with antibacterial activity using preparative TLC and column chromatography. Ethnopharmacological and ethnobotanical information was collected from seven villages during three expeditions. According to this information species belonging to the family Combretaceae could be especially prospective as sources for antimicrobial extracts and compounds. Therefore various parts of the studied plants were subjected to antimicrobial testing using Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25923, S. epidermidis ATCC 12228, Micrococcus luteus ATCC 4698 and Mycobacterium smegmatis ATCC 14468. In addition the plant pathogenic fungi, Aspergillus niger ATCC 9763, Aspergillus flavus ATCC 9763, Nattrassia mangiferae ATCC 96293 and Fusarium verticilloides (syn. F. moniliformis) ATCC 24378 were used. Compounds in the active extracts were characterised using HPLC-DAD, GC-MS, UHPLC/QTOF-MS and LC-MSn Tandem Mass Spectrometry. In studies I, II and III the ethnopharmacological data of the uses of Terminalia brownii, T. laxiflora and Anogeissus leiocarpus in traditional medicine in the villages in Sudan against diarrhoea and cough and for wound inflammation, could be verified. Our results demonstrate that especially extracts of the studied plants are active in vitro against the growth of human pathogenic bacteria, including a model bacterium for tuberculosis, with the lowest MIC values of 39 µg/ml. Pure compounds, such as punicalagin and corilagin, present in these active extracts, did not give as low MIC values and demonstrate that the antimicrobial compounds in the studied plants could act in concert. However, purification using Sephadex LH-20 of a root extract of T. brownii resulted in a significant reduction of the MIC against M. smegmatis from 5000 to 62,5 µg/ml. The chemical profiling of the most active extracts demonstrated the presence of a high variety of chemical classes, including ellagitannins, gallotannins, condensed tannins, flavonoids, stilbenes and fatty compounds. Methyl-(S)-flavogallonate was characterized for the first time from the roots of T. brownii and corilagin and its isomer, sanguiin H-4, and punicalagin have not been found before in the roots of T. laxiflora. Among the compounds in the studied species both antibiotic scaffolds and adjuvants could be found. Moreover, our in vitro results against phytopathogenic fungi demonstrate that T. brownii could be used for the protection of crop plants against fungal contamination.
  • Häyrinen, Liina (Suomen Metsätieteellinen Seura, 2019)
    Non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners are important forest ecosystem service providers and users. Along with the structural and general lifestyle changes of owners, their forest ownership objectives have become more diverse, strongly emphasizing intangible forest values alongside timber production. Therefore, NIPF owners and their versatile forest ownership objectives are a potential source of information for exploring the untapped future potential that could help the forest sector to retain its future viability on the road towards a bioeconomy. This doctoral thesis aims to understand the drivers of demand for new forestry services and forest-based business opportunities from the perspective of NIPF owner objectives and forest meanings. Objectives and forest meanings are examined from methodological, socio-demographic and NIPF owner sustainable lifestyle perspectives, leading to more general examination of NIPF owner perceptions of future utilization prospects of forests and the forest sector. Thus, the objective of the thesis is to build a more in-depth understanding of NIPF owner objectives and to examine how this information could be used in the development and marketing of forestry services and other forest-related products and services. The findings present a way to systematically analyse the objectives of forest ownership and also illustrate how certain segments of forest owners value aesthetics and biodiversity conservation over a traditional monetary value orientation. The results also indicate that the owners with the highest sustainable consumption orientation place a greater emphasis on multiple benefits of forests than owners who have a lower such orientation. The findings show that the future value creation of forests will be based on multiple aspects, and the widening of perspective beyond raw material dominance in the utilization of forests is important. Thus, recognizing customer pressure towards more diversified forestry services would be essential in meeting the versatile needs of forest owners but also from the perspective of developing new forest-based businesses.
  • Akenji, Lewis (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Transitioning to sustainable living is a complex, conflicting, and highly contested issue. As part of this push, governments and businesses have focused on promoting green consumerism - framing people as primarily consumers with “a utility function” and seeking to solve the consumerism problem by paradoxically building consumer capacity to purchase more energy and material efficient products. The now-debunked assumption is that a critical mass of informed, ecologically conscious consumers can, through the market mechanism, apply pressure on producers and thus transform the economic system into a sustainable one. In this thesis I argue that this approach, which is driven by economistic thinking, is consumer scapegoatism, and is both simplistic and flawed. In light of the magnitude and urgency of the unsustainability problem, green consumerism could even be dangerous as it delays deployment of effective solutions. Consumer scapegoatism occurs when ecological imbalance is examined primarily through an economic-growth lens, and the critical role of addressing these systemic flaws is ascribed to the consumer without proper regard for whether he or she has the power to influence other more salient actors in the system. This thesis argues for the need to develop an explicit political economy approach to sustainable living research, policy and practice. Political economy asks questions about power, institutions and agency. For sustainable living, these would be questions such as: who benefits or loses from current patterns of consumption, what are the drivers and structures that propagate unsustainable consumption, where are the meaningful points of intervention that can have desired effects. Critical to finding solutions is in understanding the power dynamics around the issue. I analyse sustainable living as an issue of heterogeneous claims and conflicting interests. The means and practical implications of achieving sustainable living threaten the interests of powerful actors such as national governments, large transnational corporations, and institutions that together shape contemporary politics, policy, and markets. Such actors are also responsible for the systems of provisioning and choice architecture that largely predetermine how individuals and communities pursue and meet their needs. As heterogeneity and conflict of interests are essential to political economy, this approach is well situated as the organizing frame of the field of sustainable living. I discuss the main tensions embodied in the pursuit of sustainable living, and juxtapose these with characteristics of the political economy approach that make it a suitable research framing. Political economy characteristics include: understanding of social transition; interdisciplinarity in research design; use of a moral perspective; and praxis, or practice orientation. I emphasize the element of power as vital in the articulation of social transformation, and highlight the need for sustainable living research to undertake a systemic analysis of power. To apply this, I develop the In-Power framework for analysing power dynamics within a system. The in-power framework has four components: institutions, interests, instruments, and influence. Institutions set the conditions or “rules of the game” for how actors operate in the production-consumption system; Interests identify stakes, showing heterogeneity or homogeneity of those interests in the sustainable living issue; Instruments refer to sources of power and tools available to each stakeholder to support its objectives; and Influence refers to activities stakeholders undertake and reflects agency. I use the framework to analyse the global value chain of consumer goods with a view to understanding drivers of consumption, how power is wielded by stakeholders, and potential points of effective intervention that can enable sustainable living. Dismantling the architecture of unsustainability would invariably call for a questioning of corporate architechture, not only due to the environmental impact resulting from its mode of operation, but also its lock-in effect on institutions and other actors of society. By extension, understanding unsustainable consumption and approaching sustainable living has at its core the need to address the balance – or imbalance – in power dynamics between consumption patterns and corporate power. Using the in-power framework to analyse power flows in a value chain leads to identifying the nexus of influence and the lead actor. The nexus of influece is the concentration of stakeholders who act interdependently and who have a combined decisive influence on the final product and also on the eco-system around it. The lead actor is the main actor in the system with a critical marketing, technological, or financial edge that permits it to set the standards or specifications for other actors in the value chain, and the characteristics that determine its production and use. Thus I argue that consumer scapegoatism, assigning full responsibility to the consumer, is ineffective; a more effective approach to addressing the systemic flaws causing or caused by unsustainable consumption is to target the nexus of influence and the lead actors in order to reform the choice architecture and systems of provision upon which people depend for meeting their needs and wants. Finally, I discuss two points not addressed in this thesis but which are essential to the political economy of sustainable living. They are: the need to define parameters for a sustainable consumption space; and to move research on sustainable living out of the shadows of economics.

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