Irma Saloniemi
Ph.D., Docent

+358 29 450 4276

+358 46 923 0948

Vesilinnantie 5


Office: 337

ORCID identifier:

Areas of expertise
evolutionary biology; quantitative genetics; natural selection; biostatistics; transgenic organisms; glyphosate; sustainable agriculture, forestry, fishery; biosafety;


During my early studies in mathematics,statistics and computer science in Helsinki, I understood that besides interesting theoretical approaches, my need to make world better requires clear applications.
Fortunately, I found holistic ways to study biology during my studies at the
University of Chicago and University of Oregon.

I have spent most of my career in Turku, first as an ecologist and later as a geneticist. I
have been lucky enough to find some time for research while teaching genetics,
ecology and evolution. Especially studies that aim at mitigating anthropogenic evolutionary
effects in living systems like sustainable agriculture, potential risks of
biotechnology or climate change in northern forests are rewarding.


Statistical methods and their application to various biological systems has been an important part of my research beginning from early epidemiological studies on. Trophic interactions especially between birches
and their predator systems have been going on in Kevo and during my Academy of Finland project (50452) “Trophic-level and life-history consequences of transgenic resistance in plants”.

Together with Luke (PI Irma Kallio-Nyberg), I have studied effects of increasing temperatures, intensive fishing and hatchery rearing on life-history traits of salmonid fishes (salmon, trout and whitefish) in the Baltic Sea area.

Long-term co-operation with Kari Saikkonen and Marjo Helander on grasses and their endophytes together with other microbial interactions has been very productive. Especially chances for agricultural applications have been exciting.

Presently I have two main projects. One of them is participating in the glyphosate project of Marjo Helander as the PI. Proper experiments on several model organisms and crops are timely with the general,
and often loose, discussion on possible risks of glyphosate.

As the main present task, I am analyzing and documenting long-term data on adult trees that are growing in planned common garden settings (MRP, tree line gardens) in five locations in Kevo, Inari, Kittilä and Ruissalo. The trees in the gardens originate from single open-pollinated northern individuals. Combining old measurements on young trees and herbarium samples of them with present molecular methods and quantitative genetic analyses are likely to give valuable data on birch evolution and traits relevant for adapting to changing climate in subarctic areas.

During the last five years I have been the sole teacher for BIOL1301 Introductory Genetics, and I have taught most of BIOL2121 Evolutionary Biology, and BIOL3050 Bioinformatics for biologists. I have given many types of applied statistics course to biologist of all levels (including a year as a statistician at Department of statistics in Turku). Previously there was more emphasis on linear model applications to evolutionary and quantitative genetics using SAS, but presently I have been involved in introductory R courses.

While my teaching position was in ecology, I taught advanced level Evolutionary interaction, Ecological genetics. In genetics I have been teaching Population genetics, Evolutionary genetics, Evolutionary applications and Advanced Evolution reading courses. A comprehensive course in Agroecology and –evolution has been given several times together with doc. Marjo Helander from Ecology and people from Natural Resources Institute.

I like to share teaching and let the students to discover phenomenon and facts by themselves, if financial, administrative and time limitations allow.

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Last updated on 2021-11-03 at 11:16