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Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences


Recent Submissions

  • Pasculli, Maria Samuela (2024)
    The S209F variant of the Abelson Interactor family member 3 (ABI3) gene has emerged as a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD). The ABI3 protein is functionally related to the WAVE Regulatory Complex (WRC) participating in the control of cytoskeletal processes favoring either filopodia for chemotaxis or pseudopodia for phagocytosis. The S209F coding variant is thought to impair phosphorylation of the ABI3 protein leading to dysfunctional association with WRC. In the brain, the ABI3 gene is mainly expressed by microglia, macrophages representing the resident immune cells of the brain. Despite some research about the variant based on rodent models and reporting sometimes contrasting results, the role of the ABI3 S209F variant in AD remains poorly understood. Here, human-induced pluripotent stem cells (h-iPSCs) reprogrammed from fibroblasts of controls and variant carriers are sequenced to ensure retention of the original phenotype upon reprogramming. H-iPSCs are differentiated into microglia (iPSC-derived microglia, iMGL) following an established protocol. Morphological changes and microglia-specific gene expression partially show that iMGL between days 31 and 38 of differentiation in vitro can be considered mature. To assess the functional properties of microglia, cytokines/chemokines production, cathepsin gene expression, lysosomal activity, and Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) protein levels are measured. It is found that S209F microglia downregulate CCL5/RANTES and upregulate cathepsins B and L (CTSB and CTSL) upon LPS+IFNg stimulation which may lead to motility, migratory and endo-lysosomal dysfunctions. Lysosomal activity is found to positively correlate with CD163, but not with either CTSB or CTSL expression. ApoE protein levels show an upregulation trend in S209F microglia which may indicate modifications in lipid metabolism. Metabolic assessment based on mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis does not show any difference between S209F and control microglia, but ABI3 knock-out (KO) shows glycolysis dysfunctions. Overall, this study offers some hints into the mechanisms that make the ABI3 S209F variant a risk factor for AD pointing at the need to investigate microglia motility and migration focusing on pathologically relevant protein aggregates and their clearance and with particular attention to phagocytosis and endo-lysosomal pathway.
  • Virtanen, Mimmi (2024)
    We have long been invited to engage in climate action in different forums, without specifying what is actually expected of us to solve the accelerating climate crisis. Traditionally, individual citizens have only been seen as consumers in climate action. Although citizen participation in climate work has also been studied more and more in recent years, there is a little research on how citizens themselves perceive their own role in climate action. Climate action at local level and small municipalities, as smaller administrative units, could also provide better opportunities to support individuals in their own climate actions. In this thesis, I examine the climate agency and participation of residents in local climate action through their perceived roles and means of participation. I am conducting a review at the level of one small Finnish municipality by carrying out a qualitative case study. The case municipality is Kokemäki in the Satakunta region, with a population of about 7000. My research questions are (1) how the municipal representatives and local residents perceive the roles of the municipality and local residents in local climate action, and (2) what means are identified by municipal representatives and local residents to strengthen the climate agency of local residents. The research material consists of thematic interviews of the municipal representatives, group discussions of the residents and a survey conducted for the residents. As a method of analysis, I have used qualitative content analysis. The results show that municipal representatives and local residents have a similar perception of the roles, even though there are differences. In total, six different roles were identified for the municipality, and communication as a cross-cutting role. A key finding is that local residents perceived their own role more active than the municipal representatives did. A total of five roles were outlined for the residents, two of which emerged mainly in the experiences of the residents: the role to support each other and the role to activate the municipality to act. The roles of the municipality and the residents are strongly linked, and instead of looking individual means to support climate agency, it might be useful for small municipalities to shift the examination more strongly to their own role in relation to the residents. The development of communication and interaction is a key means of supporting climate agency. In addition to communication based on positive tone and examples in particular, the need for encounter and discussion emerged. Discussions with local residents, also on the topic of climate change, could bring new knowledge, understanding and ideas to the municipality, and at the same time provide a forum for communicating the importance of climate action, which also supports sustainable choices in everyday life. Strengthening the experience of working together increases the potential for self-motivated action and also enables peer learning and interaction between residents. The desire to take care of one's own home region could also support local climate action, as long as the objectives and actions are set at a local scale.
  • Simola, Sara (2024)
    Agricultural peatlands are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, and to reduce emissions, a change in farmers' land use practices is needed. However, the current agricultural peat land policy has not offered effective enough measures to achieve emission reductions. Various emission-reducing measures for peat fields have not necessarily appeared feasible and acceptable in the opinion of Finnish farmers. The socio-cultural norms and ideals of farming, called good farming, can have an impact on how farmers perceive the goals of agricultural environmental policy and react to changes in farming practices that reduce emissions from peat fields. The ideals of good farming are usually context-specific, so they should be examined at the regional and farm level. In Finland, the perceptions of farmers on the use of peatlands have previously been studied, mainly in areas where there are a lot of peat fields, and farmers are then more dependent on them. Targeting measures aimed at reducing GHG emissions may be easier in areas where there are less peat fields. For this reason, the Nurmes area in North Karelia has been chosen as the target of the study. For the research, 10 farmers in the Nurmes area were interviewed. The aim was to understand how farmers use their peat fields and what solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions they see as possible and for what reasons for their own peat fields and generally peat fields of the Nurmes area. According to the results, the farmers' ideals of good farming related to peatlands are partially consistent with measures to reduce GHG emissions. Farmers are ready to change the use of their peat fields to reduce emissions, but the ideals of good farming influence what they are ready to do to different agricultural peatlands. With peat fields that are good for cultivation, the ideal is to keep them in agricultural production, and farmers see grass or perennial grass production as the best solution. When peatlands are not important for the farm's agricultural production, farmers are ready to restore or afforest them for financial compensation. Economic profitability is the basis for the continuity of farming, but economic factors do not only determine the use of peat fields by farmers. Regional specific features have an impact on farmers' ideals related to peat fields, and possible solutions that reduce GHG emissions for agricultural peatlands may depend on the region. Research has shown that by utilizing the knowledge of farmers and the ideals of good farming, it is possible to plan a more effective agricultural peatland policy.
  • Lappalainen-Imbert, Helmi (2024)
    This master's thesis examines environmental and climate racism in the Arctic regions. The work focuses particularly on the disproportionate effects of climate change on Indigenous peoples, as well as Indigenous peoples' opportunities to influence decision-making processes. In order to understand the phenomena, it is essential to recognize the effects of climate change on Indigenous peoples and their culture and traditions. In this thesis, the situation of the Sámi people in Finland will be explored in particular. The thesis also discusses the possibilities of indigenous peoples' participation and representation in decision-making processes, as well as the challenges and successes observed in these processes. In this context, the role of the Finnish state is analyzed in particular, emphasizing the need to increase genuine representation and expertise. The work also examines the efforts of indigenous peoples to influence politics, the responses of communities and the effects of international cooperation on adaptation strategies. My research questions are: 1) Does environmental racism exist and in what forms, and how does it impact Sámi communities within the decision-making processes and politics in Finland? 2) What policies and practices have perpetuated inequalities and environmental racism in Finland, and how can Sámi voices be included? 3) What has been the Indigenous communities’ response to these policies and practices? Is the representation of Indigenous perspectives acknowledged and can Indigenous values be observed within policies, practices, and communication? The research methods include data analysis, document analysis, and an interview with a member of the Ministry of Environment and the Sámi Climate Council. This multi-method approach allows for a deep understanding of the impacts of climate change on the Sámi and the roots of environmental racism. The theoretical framework of the analysis of the research is based on environmental justice, Indigenous studies, and resilience theory. The research highlights systematic violations of environmental rights that the Sámi people face, such as differences in resources or belittling attitudes towards Indigenous knowledge. The Sámi Climate Council and the inclusion of Sámi rights in Finnish climate legislation are identified as key steps to promote community-based adaptation. The study emphasizes the urgent consideration of environmental and climate racism in the Arctic regions, and highlights the consultation of Indigenous peoples, supporting fair and sustainable development in decision-making processes. The thesis also contributes to a wider discussion about environmental law and participatory governance.
  • Deb, Aruna Rani (2024)
    Since mercury (Hg) may biomagnify in food webs and bioaccumulate in living things, it is considered a dangerous element globally. The two most toxic forms of mercury are methyl mercury (MgHg) and dimethyl mercury (DMgHg). The dietary Hg consumed by fish is mostly removed through the intestine, but some of the MeHg bioaccumulates and is delivered to various organs, such as the liver, kidney, muscle, or gonad. The perch (Perca fluviatilis), the national fish of Finland serves as both a popular food fish and a monitoring species for assessing the chemical health of lakes. Fish tissue exhibits seasonal variations in mercury levels, which are thought to be produced by growth dilution in the summer, which is related to rapid somatic growth during the growing season, and hunger in the winter, which condenses mercury in the muscle as well as during spawning since gonad development requires significant energy expenditure. There has been a considerable study on Hg concentration in fish but currently lack knowledge regarding potential seasonal variation in patterns of Hg content and bioaccumulation to understand the dynamics of Hg content and bioaccumulation. This study investigates (Q1): Does mercury content change in muscle, liver and gonad tissues of males and females of perch over the four seasons? (Q2): How does mercury bioaccumulation change seasonally in different organs between male and female perch? (Q3): How does the mercury content relationship among different organs (muscle, liver, and gonads) vary seasonally and between sexes? Materials were collected monthly from Lake Pääjärvi from April 2020 to March 2021, and categorized into four seasons: winter (January -March), spring (April-Jun), summer (July-September), and autumn (October-December). Each fish was taken of its length, weight, sex, and other tissues too. Total mercury (Hg) concentrations were determined in three organs (muscle, liver and gonad) in male and female perch separately. Using analysis of variance, the annual length-corrected THg content variation and simple linear regression analysis were used to examine the annual THg bioaccumulation variation and to test the relationships in Hg concentrations among three tissues separately in males and females. Seasonal THg levels in female perch significantly varied in muscle and gonads, not in the liver. Females had consistently higher THg in muscle and liver, while males had higher levels in gonads throughout the season. THg bioaccumulation peaked in spring and winter for both sexes in muscle, but lowest in autumn. Liver THg slope was highest in early summer for females and lowest in autumn. Gonads showed the highest slopes in summer for both sexes. The highest slopes between muscle and liver THg for females were in summer and for males in spring. Similar patterns were seen in both muscle-gonad and liver-gonad THg relationships. Female perch showed significant differences only in summer, while in males, the highest slopes were in autumn and lowest in summer. Long-term monitoring is crucial to understanding THg variation in fish.