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  • Seppälä, Sini (2019)
    Not much attention is paid on the conservation of invertebrates despite their importance to the ecosystems in general and their benefits and ecosystem services to us, humans. This study is part of a project aiming to start the Sampled Red List Index (SRLI) for spiders. The IUCN Red List Index (RLI) is used for measuring the overall extinction risk of groups of species and the sampled approach is a way to evaluate the trajectory towards extinction of megadiverse groups without the need to assess every species of the whole group of interest. A random sample of 200 spider species were selected from the global checklist and assessed according to IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Given the availability of data, I was able to calculate the extent of occurrence and area of occupancy for 80 species, of which 70 species had an EOO above 20000 km² and 75 species an AOO above 2000 km², the thresholds below which species can be considered threatened. The trends in EOO and AOO were assumed to be stable for most species (49 species) given the inexistence of monitoring data for any taxon. Evidence of decline was found for only 10 species, usually inferred from habitat loss. Habitat data was collected for 118 species. The most common habitat type was forest (73 species), followed by grasslands (24 species) and artificial habitats (22 species). For 44 species the habitat trend was inferred to be stable, only declining, according to available knowledge, for 14 species and increasing for one species. For the remaining 141 species the habitat trend could not be inferred and was thus assumed to be unknown. The most commonly mentioned threat types were agriculture (11 species), fires (7 species) and logging (6 species). For 39 species there were no known threats and for the rest of the 132 species the threats were unknown. Conservation actions in place were observed for 104 species, most commonly site and area protection (100 species) and resource and habitat protection (88 species). Conservation actions such as education and awareness (8 species), resource and habitat protection (7 species) and site and area management (6 species) were to take into consideration. All the 200 species were estimated to be in need of further basic research especially on threats (143 species and distribution (140 species), but also on life history and ecology (135 species). Due to several knowledge shortfalls, including the Wallacean (distribution of species), Prestonian (population trends) and Hutchinsonian (response to environmental change), no threat category could be reached for the vast majority of the species. The results show that an IUCN category could be reached for only 59 species, of which 55 were assessed as Least Concern and a threatened category was reached for only 4 species (t as Critically Endangered and one as Vulnerable). The baseline SRLI at this first point in time was 0.95 (in a 0-1 scale, where 0 means all species are extinct and 1 for all species are Least Concern). We hypothesize however that among the 141 Data Deficient species there should be a higher proportion of threatened species than among the 59 evaluated. This would be due to two reasons. First, the scarcity of information on many species might in part be due to their rarity. Second, widespread species were often the only for which an assessment could be reached, creating a bias in the dataset towards a large base SRLI value. The strategy currently imposed by IUCN is therefore clearly inadequate for taxa with scarce information, which represent the vast majority of species. I propose the future use of a different, non-random, approach to the selection of species in the SRLI and its adoption for other taxa which represent in fact most extant and threatened species.
  • Maran, Suveda Vignesh (2019)
    Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a diverse set of cell-derived membranous vesicles which have exosomes or small EVs (40 -200nm) ,large EVs (>200 nm) and larger apoptotic bodies/oncosomes (>1000 nm). They are present in most biological fluids, such as blood, sweat, and urine etc. EVs are expressed by almost all cells.Recent evidence suggests that EVs are a form of cellular communication, resulting in an intensive investigation of their role in different biological processes and also due to their biomarker potential. Ultracentrifugation (UC) is the standard method used for the isolation of EVs from different biological fluids. UC has some limitations related to laborious operation and scalability issues. Hence, there is a need for new methods for the isolation of EVs.Nanocellulose(NC) is a biopolymer obtained from wood biomass and has the ability to be functionalised with various chemical groups on its surface. The chemical groups alter the surface properties of NC for usability in different applications. Currently, It finds extensive use in different biomedical applications due to its unique physicochemical properties. The aim of the thesis is to evaluate the use of functionalised nanocellulose (FNC) as a novel alternative compared to the standard method of ultracentrifugation in the isolation of EVs from conditioned cell culture media. Cancer cell lines and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) were grown in EV-depleted cell culture media after expansion in cell culture media. The EV-depleted media was collected from the cells after 48 hours and further processed by filtration to obtain the necessary conditioned cell culture media for EV isolation. Extracellular vesicles were isolated from the conditioned cell culture media by using UC and FNC. The isolated EVs from both methods were characterised and evaluated based on their different parameters using Bicinchoninic Acid (BCA) assay, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA), and Western Blot. The EVs isolated by FNC were smaller in size with few vesicle-like structures around 20-40 nm compared to EVs isolated by UC 60-200nm. Most EVs isolated by UC had a higher particle-to-protein ratio which indicated more purity and reduced levels of non-vesicular contaminants in the EV isolations. The EVs isolated by FNC for many samples had a low particle-to-protein ratio indicating potentially higher levels of non-vesicular contaminants being present. Hsp70, a surface marker of EVs and soluble stress protein was observed in EVs obtained from a primary MSC and another cancer cell line among all the isolation methods. No contamination from Endoplasmic reticulum(ER) components was observed in any of the samples. The EVs isolated by FNC could not be analysed more thoroughly by some of the characterisation methods due to issues such as lack of standardised sample preparation protocols, possible interference from isolation components and sample variations. The isolation method will really benefit from further optimisation of sample preparation steps and the adoption of alternative characterisation methods for evaluation. A narrower research question with focus on FNC-EDA isolation of EVs from HOS-143B and AT-MSC will be an excellent starting point for more detailed investigations.The availability of different surface modifications, faster processing and more research on the isolation mechanism will make this novel method a great alternative to UC for isolation of EVs.
  • Järvinen, Riikka (2022)
    Urban greenspaces are valuable resources for humans and are an integral part of the urban landscape. They are also popular sites for various social and cultural activities, such as dog walking. Dog ownership rates are increasing globally at a rapid rate, hence increasing the dog populations within urban cities. The increasing number of dogs could potentially have negative consequences to the quality of urban parks. Furthermore, there is a lack of research on the impacts of dogs on urban environments. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of the impacts of dogs on path-side soils in urban greenspaces. Soil samples were collected from both Helsinki and Lahti. The impact of dog urine was studied by comparing path-side soil samples between areas with high dog activity (i.e., parks) and similar areas with low to no dog activity (i.e., cemeteries). Soil samples were collected three times during the growing season in 2021 at three different treatments: close by 1) an evergreen tree, 2) a lamppost, and 3) a lawn area. The samples were analyzed for soil pH, electrical conductivity, organic matter, soil moisture, NO3--N, and NH4+-N. Net N mineralization and net nitrification rates were also calculated. The results indicated that dog urine is a significant contributor to the input of nitrogen in urban parks. Soil NO3-N and NH4+-N concentrations were significantly higher in parks than in cemeteries and exhibited clear seasonal trends. Soil pH was generally lower and electrical conductivity higher in parks than in cemeteries. Poles and trees exhibited the greatest concentrations, suggesting that the impact of dog urine is highly localized around path-side objects. None of the treatments in cemeteries showed little to no changes throughout the growing season. Lastly, the net nitrification rates were significantly higher in parks during spring and summer. In contrast, net mineralization rates were generally higher in cemeteries than parks. These results confirm that urban planners need to take into consideration the impact of dogs to mitigate any potential negative consequences to the quality of urban parks.
  • Järvi, Vilja (2019)
    The insular cortex has been implicated in the neurocircuitry underlying alcohol addiction. The role of the insular cortex and its projections in regulating ethanol intake in AA (Alko-Alcohol) rats has been studied using chemogenetic tools. Chemogenetic activation of the anterior agranular insula (aAI) in AA rats through excitatory DREADDs expressed in the aAI has been found to decrease ethanol consumption. The aAI projects to the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), another brain region involved in the development of addiction, particularly in the withdrawal/negative affect stage. In the current study, we sought to further investigate the role of the aAI and the CeA in regulating voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats. First, we characterized the efferent projections of the aAI in AA rats by chemogenetically activating the aAI with DREADDs and then measuring c-Fos expression in various regions of interest throughout the brain. Next, we investigated the role of the aAI --> CeA projection in ethanol intake by chemogenetically activating or inhibiting the aAI --> CeA projection using the dual viral Cre-dependent DREADD approach. We examined the effects of this manipulation on voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats in a two-bottle choice paradigm. Finally, we examined the roles of CeA D1Rs (dopamine receptors) and 5-HT2ARs (serotonin receptors) in regulating ethanol intake by examining the effects of pharmacological agonism or antagonism of these receptors on voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats. Our results from the first experiment reveal significant activation of brain regions including the posterior agranular insula, the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus, and the posterior piriform cortex following chemogenetic activation of the aAI. The projections from the aAI to these regions are potentially important in the aAI circuitry in AA rats and are therefore of interest in future studies on the role of aAI circuitry in ethanol intake. In the second experiment, we found no significant effects of aAI --> CeA projection activation or inhibition on ethanol consumption in AA rats, indicating that this projection may not be a key component in regulating ethanol intake in these rats. Finally, we found no significant effects of pharmacological D1R antagonism, 5-HT2AR antagonism, or 5-HT2AR agonism in the CeA on ethanol intake in AA rats, although there was a non-significant trend towards a dose-dependent decrease in ethanol consumption with increasing dose of the D1R antagonist. Our results reveal new neural projections that should be investigated in future research on the role of the aAI in regulating ethanol intake. Studies on the neurobiology underlying alcoholism may reveal new pharmacological or anatomical targets for treatments of alcoholism in humans.
  • Partti, Edvard (2018)
    Kaurapohjaiset elintarvikkeet ovat terveellisiä. Monet niiden terveyshyödyt johtuvat kauran liukoisen ravintokuidun suuresta β-glukaanipitoisuudesta. β-glukaanin terveysvaikutukset ovat riippuvaisia sen molekyylipainosta ja viskositeetista. Viskositeetilla on myös muuta merkitystä kaurapohjaisissa elintarvikkeissa kuten kaurajugurteissa ja kauramaidoissa. Aiemmassa Folafibre-tutkimusprojektissa oli tutkittu kaurakuidun folaattipitoisuuden (B9 vitamiini) kasvattamista fermentoimalla sitä eri mikrobeilla. Hyvin folaattia tuottaneet mikrobit myös alensivat kaurakuituvalmisteen viskositeettia, ja erittivät glykosyylihydrolaaseja ja/tai proteaasia. Oli kuitenkin jäänyt epäselväksi, olivatko entsyymit ainut syy viskositeetin alenemiseen, ja kuinka paljon kullakin niistä oli vaikutusta viskositeettiin. Lisäksi tämän alan kirjallisuudessa on pidetty epäselvänä, onko esim. tärkkelyksen ja β-glukaanin välillä jotain interaktioita jotka mm. nostavat niiden viskositeettia yli yksittäisten polymeerien viskositeetin summan. Näitä voitaisiin selvittää puhdistamalla viskositeettia alentaneista mikrobikannoista kyseiset entsyymit ja tutkimalla niiden vaikutusta kaurakuidun viskositeettiin. Yhdeksi mikrobiksi valittiin Exiguobacterium sp. RB3 kanta, koska em. syiden lisäksi tässä bakteerisuvussa esiintyy psykrofiilejä ja mikrobeja jotka voivat kasvaa korkeassa pH:ssa, jolloin sen erittämät entsyymit saattaisivat olla aktiivisia matalissa lämpötiloissa ja korkeassa pH:ssa, ja olla siten teollisesti kiinnostavia. Toiseksi mikrobiksi valittiin Bacillus sp. ABM5119, koska sitä oli käytetty monissa Folafibre-projektin tutkimuksissa. Työn tavoitteena oli puhdistaa Bacillus sp. ABM5119:n endo-β-1,4-glukanaasi, ja Exiguobacterium sp. RB3:n α-amylaasi ainakin siinä määrin, että ne ovat muista endoaktiivisista glykosyylihydrolaaseista ja proteaaseista puhtaita, ja sitten mitata puhdistettuja entsyymejä ja proteaasia käyttäen niiden vaikutus yhdessä ja erikseen keitetyn kaurakuituvalmisteen viskositeettiin. Lisäksi tavoitteena oli karakterisoida Exiguobacterium sp. RB3 amylaasin olennaisimmat biokemialliset ominaisuudet, sekvensoida sen geenin amylaasia koodaava alue, ja selittää sen ominaisuuksia myös sekvenssistä johdettavissa olevan tiedon perusteella. Keitetyn kaurakuitupreparaatin viskositeettia alentavat eniten α-amylaasi ja endo-β-1,4-glukanaasi. Proteaasi ei vaikuta kaurakuitupreparaatin viskositeettiin, kun kuitupreparaatti on keitetty. Endo-β-1,4-glukanaasi alentaa viskositeettia yhtä hyvin kuin β-1,3-1,4-glukanaasi. Synergiaa viskositeetin alentamisessa α-amylaasilla ja endo-β-1,4-glukanaasilla ei havaittu, mutta havaittiin että β-glukaani saattaa estää tärkkelyksen retrogradaatiota. Hyvin pienetkin entsyymiaktiivisuudet vaikuttavat viskositeettiin. Jos halutaan β-glukaanin viskositeetin ja siten terveysvaikutusten säilyvän, täytyy esim. kauramaidon valmistuksessa käytettävien entsyymivalmisteiden olla β-glukanaaseista hyvin puhtaita. Mikrobifermentaatioissa tapahtuvat viskositeetin alenemat johtuvat lähinnä mikrobien erittämistä glykosyylihydrolaaseista, ei niinkään esim. niiden metabolian sivutuotteista kuten happiradikaaleista. Exiguobacterium sp. RB3 α-amylaasi on rakenteeltaan Bacillus licheniformis α-amylaasin kaltainen glykosyylihydrolaasiryhmän 13 entsyymi. Se sitoo rakenteeseensa kolme kalsiumiatomia, ja kalsiumpitoisuus vaikuttaa sen aktiivisuuteen. Se on aktiivisimmillan pH alueella 5,0 – 7,5. Se sietää detergenttejä, toisin kuin eräs aiemmin karakterisoitu Exiguobacterium-α-amylaasi. RB3 α-amylaasin turnover number oli korkea, 29000 1/s. Exiguobacterium-suvun psykrofiilisessä haarassa esiintyy kahta eri α-amylaasia, joista yksi on tässä karakterisoitu, ja toinen on selvästi erilainen rakenteeltaan ja biokemiallisilta ominaisuuksiltaan.
  • Lukkaroinen, Teresa (2022)
    In recent years, the science community has increasingly emphasized the influence of behavior, lifestyles, and culture on greenhouse gas emissions. Finland’s emissions per capita (~10 tCO2/yr.) are amongst the highest in the world, and it has been calculated that to comply with the Paris Agreement and to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, Finnish households should reduce their carbon footprint by 70 % by 2030. This requires drastic lifestyle changes, especially regarding mobility, housing, and nutrition. However, knowing this is not enough to change behaviors. Human behavior is influenced by several different internal and external factors such as knowledge, values, and social structures. This master’s thesis is a case study conducted in the Environmental Change and Global Sustainability (ECGS) master’s program at the University of Helsinki with the aim to enrich theories about pro-environmental behavior by providing insights on the future aspirations of sustainability science students, who have both extensive knowledge and experience in the field of sustainability. The data for this study was collected through an anonymous, online questionnaire with four open-ended questions. In total, 61 out of 274 ECGS students answered the questionnaire, after which qualitative content analysis with both inductive and deductive elements was applied to analyze the results. The results confirm that ECGS students are indeed well aware of the most impactful lifestyle changes for reducing personal carbon footprint. Despite their extensive knowledge on sustainability, the students’ future aspirations still come quite close to the dominant cultural vision of a good life in Finland. The implications of these findings once again confirm the importance of facilitating sustainable ways of living through changes in societal structures, discourses, and norms.
  • Tuomaala, Emilia (2014)
    Taita Hills are situated in southeastern Kenya (03°20'S 38°15'E), only 350 km from the equator. Ecology and biodiversity of the area is one of a kind and has been subject to multiple studies of natural sciences during the last decades. Taita Hills belong to the Eastern Arc Mountains, an ancient chain of mountains in Eastern Africa and one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world. To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot an area must have lost significant amounts of its original vegetation and inhabit a number of endemic plant species. Both of these criteria are met in Taita Hills where the favorable climate enables endemic species to thrive. Large areas of forest has been cut down in order get more room for agriculture, the main source of livelihood in Kenyan countryside, making the environment threatened. The diverse environment of Taita Hills produces a multitude of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services can be defined as all benefits people obtain from nature. They are often divided into four categories: provisioning services, regulating services, cultural services and supporting services. Ecosystem services link ecological knowledge and economics together by enabling monetary valuation of abstract aspects of nature (e. g. water retention). This link helps decision makers to take environmental issues into consideration by providing a possibility to compare concrete and abstract aspects of nature with each other through tangible monetary values. Research on ecosystem services has grown exponentially in the recent years and decades. However, most of this research has been conducted in developed countries and only little research has been completed in developing countries such as Kenya. It has been established that provisioning services are considered the most important services in developing countries, though. This was the case in Taita Hills, too; the majority of ecosystem services recognized by the local people were provisioning services. Services like firewood, medicinal usage of local plants and scenery were familiar to local people and the role of water was also emphasized in their perceptions of ecosystem services and biodiversity as a whole. Phoenix reclinata was one of the keystone species of ecosystem services. People's perceptions of biodiversity can vary a lot. Like ecosystem services, biodiversity is a subjective concept that can be understood differently by different people. Understanding how people see nature that surrounds them and biodiversity it beholds can help e. g. in planning nature conservation areas. When people agree on decisions made about their environment and recognize their own basic values in the decisions made they are more eager to support them. Even so, research on people's perceptions of biodiversity is currently lacking. Results that have been obtained have suggested that plants' role in people's perceptions is emphasized and people respond better to beautiful and imposing species than modest or ugly species. This was true also in Taita Hills where people linked plants and forest directly to biodiversity. They also recognized local plant species well, regardless of their nativeness, and had a close relationship with nature overall.
  • Lewis, Serena (2021)
    Histamine receptors are known to be expressed throughout the peripheral nervous system and are involved in regulating the gut and immune system. The gut-brain axis, which consists of bidirectional signaling between the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, links gut functions to emotional and cognitive controls in the brain. Many animal models are known to express histamine receptors in their gut and brain tissue which can be altered by a compromised gut-brain axis like stress. Histamine receptors also play an important role in many gastric and intestinal disorders. However, the precise expression pattern of histamine receptors in zebrafish gut tissue is unknown, as is whether their expression levels also change with stress. Here, I show that zebrafish gut contains several histamine receptors, but their role involving stress within the gut remains unknown. I found that histamine receptors hrh1 and hrh3 as well as the enzyme that synthesizes histamine, histidine decarboxylase (hdc), are expressed in zebrafish gut and brain in wildtype and hdc knockout adult zebrafish using in situ hybridization. Stress induction on wildtype male zebrafish through chronic social defeat and analysis of histamine receptor and hdc mRNA levels using quantitative real time PCR showed no differences in subordinate, dominate, or control fish. However, it did provide quantitative data that hrh1, hrh2, and hdc mRNA expresses in the adult gut. My results demonstrate the first data to suggest histamine receptors are expressed in zebrafish gut, and that even though stress can alter the gut-brain axis, it may not do so through the regulation of these receptors.
  • Taha, Lamia (2021)
    The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an important organelle of the cell where a high number of proteins are synthesized and modified to obtain their final structure. Therefore, the ER stress, which is caused by accumulation of unfolded proteins in the ER, is not to be taken lightly since it could contribute to many diseases, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The response to the ER stress is the unfolded protein response (UPR), which is an adaptive system that helps in adjusting for increased folding needs within the ER. One of the main protein branches in the UPR is inositol requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1). IRE1 detects the status of protein folding inside the ER and initiates the UPR signaling pathway to achieve either normal folding status or cell death. The aim of this research was to express yeast IRE1 in E.coli and human IRE1 in insect cells, purify with affinity chromatography and study the IRE1’s crystal structure with a small molecule modulator that could possibly enhance its activity. The protein was expressed successfully and purified with glutathione S-transferase (GST) tag, and the activity of the pure protein was determined. The structural studies were not fully completed since the absolute purity and yield that was necessary for crystallization was not achieved due to loss of protein during gel filtration and precipitation. Based on the results it is likely that the structure of the protein could be solved and further biochemical and structural studies with F10 are possible.
  • Berglund, Nora (2022)
    In Finland and in many other European countries, indoor housing of dairy cattle has been increasing at the expense of grazing. According to Finnish legislation, only dairy cows housed in tie-stalls are obligated to graze for 60 days per year between May and September. Pressure to intensify production leads to increase in herd sizes, regional concentration, lack of suitable pastureland near large barns, and automation of milking. Conversely, grazing is regarded as important for animal welfare, maintenance of biodiversity and cultural landscapes. Farmer perceptions towards grazing have not been studied in Finland comprehensively, which need to be understood better in order to provide adequate support for sustainable management of grazing. The research aims at gaining understanding of the external and internal factors driv- ing the farm-level decision making related to grazing regimes. Concept of good farming ideal is used to examine farmers’ decision-making. The data was collected from 26 cattle farms with a gradient of grazing from zero to maximum. Firstly, an online questionnaire was sent out to farmers and secondly, semi-structured inter- views were conducted with 7 dairy producers, to further explore farmer views about grazing, biodiversity, and animal welfare. The results show farmers who practice grazing to perceive it more positively than the farmers who do not graze. Some of the farmers who grazed seemed to consider it almost as an intrinsic value, whereas farmers with no grazing saw it as an inef- ficient production method, which they were afraid would become an obligation. The most im- portant internal factors driving decision-making about grazing based on the questionnaire and interviews, were animal welfare, decreased workload because of grazing, infrastructure of the farm, economic aspects, and benefits of grazing to biodiversity and landscape values. Exter- nal factors found to affect the decision of grazing were incentives, regulations, and consumer expectations. Animal welfare was found to be a basis for production for many and the most important feature valued for good farming, to which grazing was seen to contribute. The re- sults imply subsidies regarding grazing should be higher for grazing to be considered profita- ble and more enjoyable by farmers.
  • Heilala, Maria (2019)
    Despite the advances in the management of breast cancer, discovery of novel and targeted drugs remains a challenge. It has been suggested that drug failure rates in clinical trials might be diminished by improving the predictive potential of preclinical cancer models. Three-dimensional (3D) scaffold-based cell culture has emerged as an attractive platform for mimicking tissue-like microenvironment, since it is well-known that cells respond to the cues in the extracellular matrix (ECM). The aim of this thesis was to develop fibrin-based hydrogels and evaluate their performance in 3D cell culture of breast cancer cells. The fibrin gel formulation was first optimized by testing the effect of different buffers on gel properties. Structural properties were examined with scanning electron microscopy and mechanical properties measured with oscillatory rheometry. Three different fibrin concentrations of the optimized formulation were then used as scaffolds for DU4475 breast cancer cells. After seven days of culture, the morphology, phenotype and proliferation of the resulting cell structures were assessed by using techniques such as light microscopy, immunofluorescent confocal microscopy and Western blot analysis. The desired properties for 3D cell culture were obtained by preparing fibrin gels at high pH in the absence of calcium. The main finding of the thesis was that fibrin concentration strongly affected the phenotype of DU4475 cells, with cells cultured in the softest gel retaining their original characteristics to the greatest extent. In the future, the developed scaffold could possibly be used in drug discovery and personalized medicine by culturing tumor explants from patients. However, the methods used in the study must be further optimized and the results validated with other breast cancer cell lines and with primary tissues.
  • Väyrynen, Pia (2017)
    Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) regulates mammalian reproduction. The hormonal function of FSH is exerted through its receptor, FSHR. Hormone binding leads to signal transduction by the synthesis of the second messenger (intracellular cAMP) and the activation of other downstream signaling pathways. FSH receptors are mainly found in ovaries and testes where FSH stimulates e.g. follicular growth and spermatogenesis, respectively. It has been previously shown that FSHR mutations are linked to infertility through abnormalities in the receptor function. For example, inactivating FSHR mutation (Ala189Val) leads to arrest of follicular development in females and reduced sperm counts in males. FSH action seems to be especially critical for folliculogenesis and essential for female fertility. The development of gonads and dysfunctions affecting reproduction are the focus of our research group. Studies of recent years have demonstrated extragonadal FSHR expression, including endothelial cells of female reproductive tract and developing placenta. The physiological relevance and function of this extragonadal FSHR is still not well known, especially during embryogenesis. In addition, the expression or function of the mutated FSHR has not been studied in any cells endogenously expressing the receptor. As a consequence, the purpose of this thesis was to study FSHR expression and function in human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) as a model for early human development. The study was conducted in a human embryonic stem cell line (hESC H9, 46, XX) and two human induced pluripotent stem cell lines (hiPSC HEL127.6 and HEL128.5; 46, XX). iPSCs were obtained from female patients carrying the A189V mutation in the FSHR gene. Cells were differentiated for 8/12 days using two in vitro cell culturing protocols for distinct differentiation attempts. The first protocol (protocol D) was designed for embryonal cell differentiation, the other (trophoblast protocol) for extraembryonal differentiation. Cells at different stages of differentiation were studied with qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry. At d8, cells were stimulated with FSH for qPCR studies and for cAMP assay. Control cells (H9) differentiated by protocol D endogenously expressed functional FSHR. These cells responded dose-dependently to FSH stimulation by substantially increasing cAMP production, downregulating FSHR mRNA expression and altering inhibin gene expression. Patient-derived iPSCs carrying the mutation expressed FSHR as well but the receptors were non-functional as expected. Both H9 and patient-derived cells that differentiated into trophoblast-like cells with the other protocol, also expressed FSHR at low level but did not respond to FSH stimulation. Preliminary results with protocol D indicate that the cells resemble extraembryonic cell types. The study has revealed novel information and insight about extragonadal FSHR expression and function during differentiation. However, the exact identity and the biological role of these cells is yet to be confirmed.
  • Aapio, Fanny (2020)
    Food literacy is a noteworthy topic to be studied due to food’s considerable environmental and health effects. When food literacy and its characteristics are known, food literacy can be used as a tool to improve people’s health and the condition of the environment. Thus, this thesis aims to reveal the extent of food literacy among Finnish upper secondary school students. In this context, food literacy emphasises food-related environmental and health knowledge. Environmental knowledge is understanding of the global environmental impact of food. Health knowledge, on the other hand, is the familiarity with the relationship between excessive meat consumption and Finnish common diseases along with beliefs regarding diets and food products as a source of protein. This thesis also aims to identify to what extent does the food literacy differ based on gender, study year and living area. This study was performed as a quantitative sample survey and the data was collected using an online Typeform -questionnaire. The questionnaire reached respondents from many different Finnish localities, mainly from cities. The final data consisted of 1320 individuals and it was analysed using IMB SPSS Statistics 24 software. The following methods were used to analyse data: frequency analysis, an Independent Samples t Test, a One-way ANOVA, and a Post-hoc LSD test. Gender, study year and living area were used as grouping variables to examine the differences between groups. The results show that the students named school as the main source of food literacy. Moreover, the results indicate that awareness regarding food production, dietary health and proteins increase significantly from the first to the third study year. The students acknowledged food production causing environmental problems and that the share of food in the consumer’s climatic impact is considerable. Nevertheless, the students underestimated the climatic impact of cheese and they were unaware of the more specific characteristics of food’s environmental impacts. They also had food-related environmental misconceptions considering packaging, transportation and meat consumption. Moreover, approximately half or more of the students were aware of the connection between excessive meat consumption and the increased risk of distinct common diseases. Most of the students acknowledged a versatile vegetarian diet as being a healthy choice. The study also reveals that female students had notably higher dietary health knowledge than male students. This Master’s thesis study mainly supports the findings of previous studies on food-related knowledge. The results elucidate the extent, characteristics, gaps and misconceptions of students’ food literacy. These findings may be utilized to improve school education on food literacy, alter misconceptions and fill the gaps of knowledge in pursuit of improving the health of people and the condition of the environment.
  • Jokinen, Toni (2019)
    In this thesis I focus on a novel disaster response and preparedness mechanism called forecast-based financing. The mechanism is linked to the changing paradigm of humanitarian response that calls for more localized and more resilience building solutions to addressing and preventing humanitarian crisis. It is also in the core of the anticipation agenda which argues that waiting for disasters to happen is not a sustainable option and that forecast data and pre-agreed triggers and actions should be used in order to prevent both loss of lives and mitigate the cost and impact of disasters. Main hypothesis is that climate related hazards to livelihoods and food security seems to be the sector where forecast-based financing could have most potential for increasing resilience and sustainability. Slow onset crises with long lead-time allow for better targeting and more variety of actions. As the lifetime of the action is longer, there is less chance of action which is in vain. Furthermore, the actions which are more localized, for example direct support to farmers, can decrease their vulnerabilities. I aim at taking a critical approach to assessing this potentiality associated with the forecast-based financing mechanism through case study. The three cases (Mongolia, Kenya, Zimbabwe) were selected from pilots implemented by the main actors: the Red Cross, World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Start Network. This thesis uses a combination of evaluative and heuristic approach to qualitative case study analysis. To answer the first research question, 1) is the forecast-based financing mechanism successful in prioritization of actions in a way that best address the needs and resources of vulnerable populations, I aim at finding out if mechanism is effective (or potentially effective) in delivering impact. For the second research question, 2) are the actions sustainable and do they bring socio-economic benefits that go beyond meeting acute humanitarian needs, I will see if new pathways are found for confirming the defined hypothesis. I am using heuristic approach in terms of finding new links e.g. between actions and needs of either donors, actors or beneficiaries. I asses and analyse available reports and evaluations (secondary data) of the selected operations. I conducted eleven (11) semi-structured key informant interviews (primary data) using practitioner’s perspective for retrieving qualitative data, for further understanding and for triangulation. All key informants were affiliated to the cases. My analysis show that the potentiality for development impacts and long-term transformation of the forecast-based financing is there but it is not utilized in the cases reviewed nor is it perceived in a same way across practitioners of different backgrounds. Currently the mechanism is used more for effective response, not for addressing the root causes of vulnerability. In general, the entitlement or empowering of a person who is affected by disaster currently does not go beyond securing bridge over lean season, avoiding negative coping mechanisms or e.g. better yield or survival of livestock. Sustainability potential of the forecast-based financing seems to be currently underutilized and international funding envelopes do not offer an alternative to the humanitarian funding launched case-by-case. Most of the practitioners interviewed were clearly in favour of linking and using forecast-based financing in some way to long-term programming, thinking outside of the framework of humanitarian response, extending lead time significantly and adding positive reinforcement inputs. I argue that with a lead time that goes long in advance, towards development actions, the mechanism needs to be reframed for the donors and the sources of funding might need to be reconsidered. To implement meaningful resilience actions in slow onset cases, triggers need to be early enough and actions in two phases: 1) anticipatory and benefiting from forecast and 2) early response. At beneficiary level the actions should be geared up to better address underlying socio-economic vulnerabilities and take advantage of the long lead time.
  • Raitanen, Henna (2020)
    In this study, the goal was to determine which nutrient, phosphorus or nitrogen, limits the phytoplankton growth at the Vanajavesi freshwater site. The aims were to detect spatial and temporal changes and find out if the wastewater treatment plant (hereafter, WWTP) located by the study site affects the nutrient concentrations and the limiting nutrient. The reliability of determining limiting nutrient by bioassays and measuring the phytoplankton response to different treatments as fluorescence was also evaluated. The study was conducted because knowledge of nutrient limitation is essential when allocating resources to reduce nutrient loading and planning other remediation practices in eutrophicated waterbodies. According to the EU Water Framework Directive, all waterbodies in the EU must be in a good ecological status by the year 2027. This goal is yet to be achieved in Vanajavesi; the ecological status of the river Vanajanreitti is poor and that of lake Vanajanselkä is moderate. The samples for bioassays were taken from five different locations. Three sampling sites were in the river and two by the lake. Based on the direction which the water flows, one of the sampling sites was before the outlet from the WWTP and the rest after it. The bioassays were carried out with the water and natural phytoplankton community taken from the study site. The experiment was conducted five times: in November, March, May, July and August. The temperature and light conditions in the incubation room were set to mimic those in Vanajavesi at each given time. Part of the preparations was to filter out the zooplankton using 50 μm plankton net. There were four different treatments: control without nutrient additions, nitrogen addition, phosphorus addition and nitrogen and phosphorus additions. Fluorescence from the 2 litre incubation bottles was measured every 1-3 days during each experiment. Chlorophyll a was determined in laboratory before and after the experiments. Nutrient concentrations were also determined before each experiment. Small seasonal and temporal changes were observed in the nutrient concentrations and the limiting nutrient. These changes were most likely due to changing seasons, effluent from the WWTP and denitrification at lake Vanajanselkä. Phosphorus limited phytoplankton growth year around at all places. At the end of the summer also nitrogen was limiting. In July co-limitation was detected in all sampling sites. In situations of co-limitation there was either no secondary limiting nutrient, or it was phosphorus. Only once, in August at the sampling point before the outlet from the WWTP, was the secondary limiting nutrient nitrogen. On average the nutrient concentrations were higher in the river than in the lake. Chlorophyll a concentrations and some nutrient concentrations were higher after the WWTP. However, no significant negative impact due to WWTP could be detected, especially at lake Vanajanselkä and the WWTP did not result in a change from phosphorus limitation to nitrogen limitation. Bioassays and the phytoplankton yield measured with a fluorometer was a reliable way of determining the limiting nutrient. Chlorophyll a concentrations verified the fluorescence results. The probe used in this study measured only the fluorescence of chlorophyll a. Even more accurate result of the phytoplankton biomass would have been obtained with a probe that measures also the fluorescence of phycocyanin, the photosynthetic pigment in cyanobacteria, because cyanobacteria has less chlorophyll a than other phytoplankton groups. As Vanajavesi is phosphorus limited or co-limited by phosphorus and nitrogen year around, reductions in phosphorus loading will likely improve the water quality. The main source of phosphorus to Vanajavesi is the nutrient loading from agricultural practises on the drainage basin. Efficient management of this diffuse loading will cause the phytoplankton biomass, especially the biomass of harmful cyanobacteria, to decrease. Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria is not dependent on the nitrogen concentrations in the water column, but the concentration of phosphorus. Significantly reducing the phosphorus loading is a prerequisite for the Vanajanreitti and Vanajavesi to be in a good ecological status by the year 2027.
  • Myyryläinen, Jerry (2020)
    Hypolimnetic withdrawal and purification is a new method developed to restore eutrophic lakes, which enables the removal and capture of nutrients such as phosphorus from hypolimnetic water. The method is currently being studied in a pilot-scale project at Lake Kymijärvi, Lahti, Finland. The project employs a closed-circuit system, in which the hypolimnetic water is pumped into a filtering system onshore, where the dissolved phosphorus is first precipitated. There are two possible methods for precipitation: aeration of water, in which dissolved phosphorus is precipitated by iron hydroxides as the water aerates, and addition of calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) (hereafter “chemical treatment”), in which dissolved phosphorus is precipitated as hydroxyapatite. The water then flows through a nutrient filter, which traps the precipitate. The nutrient filter consists of two parallel filters, which enables the simultaneous comparison of two different filter materials. Finally, the water is returned to the lake via a wetland. A closed hypolimnetic withdrawal and purification system like this has not been previously studied as a restoration method. The aim of this master's thesis is to study the operation of the hypolimnetic withdrawal and purification system of Lake Kymijärvi by comparing the phosphorus retention capacity with 1) two different filter materials and 2) two different precipitation methods. The compared filter materials were fine gravel (manufactured by Rudus) and calcitic waste rock (manufactured by Nordkalk). Additionally, the thesis investigates the ratio of phosphorus fractions (Ca-P and Fe-P) of the phosphorus trapped in the filters, the distribution of trapped phosphorus between different filter layers and the effect of the filter materials on the concentrations of calcium, iron, manganese and sulfur of the water flowing through the filters. The operation of the hypolimnetic withdrawal and purification system was tested during four hypolimnetic water test pumping periods in summer 2019. The material for this thesis consisted of water and filter material samples collected from the system during the test pumping periods. The water samples were used to determine the capacity of the filter materials to capture phosphorus and other elements. The filter material samples were used to study the ratio of different phosphorus fractions and the distribution of trapped phosphorus between different filter layers. Both filter materials captured phosphorus efficiently via both precipitation methods. At their highest efficiency, both materials captured over 90 % of dissolved phosphorus and over 75 % of total phosphorus. No statistically significant difference was found in the phosphorus retention capacity between the filter materials, nor the precipitation methods. Of other elements, both filter materials captured iron very efficiently during both precipitation methods, and manganese during the chemical treatment. The phosphorus trapped in the filters was not evenly distributed between different filter layers and most of the phosphorus was trapped in the bottom-most layer in both filters. The phosphorus fractions between the two precipitation methods differed less than expected. After water aeration, all the phosphorus trapped in the filters was bound to iron. Even after the chemical treatment, less than half of the trapped phosphorus was bound to calcium, with the remainder bound to iron. According to the results, it is possible to remove phosphorus efficiently from hypolimnetic water with the system, using whichever of the studied precipitation methods or the filter materials.
  • Mäkinen, Theresa (2022)
    The topic of forest fires has gathered a lot of media attention in recent years as it relates closely to climate change and other sustainability issues. The media has an important role in communicating these issues as it affects, how the public percieves them, how different sustainability problems are defined and what kind of solutions are seen plausible. I became interested in how the media represents the issue of forest fires. My aim in this thesis is to find out, how the Colombian news media has framed the Amazon rainforest fires. As my material I used the news articles from the Colombian news media El Tiempo. I definined my timeframe from July 2019 to september 2019 because at that time the news subject was of high interest. After the initial search I went through the articles and left out any irrelevant ones. I was left with 24 news articles. As an analytic tool I utilized qualitative frame analysis guided by Robert Entman´s definition of frames and used ATLAS.ti to make an initial thematic coding. After that I mapped out all the actors that were cited in the news articles and divided them into groups. Using these actor groups, I searched for the frames. There were eight actor groups, politicians and political organizations being the most prominent one. Looking at how these actors talked about the forest fires, two main frames came out: populist and scientific. The populist frame concentrated mainly on Jair Bolsonaro. In this frame there was a lot of nationalist and economic arguments and responsability was directed away from him. There seemed to be a lot of enemies also. The second frame concentrated in deforestation, climate change and the forest fires being a global issue. In this frame international actors used economic and political pressure in order to affect Bolsonaro´s policy solutions. The research showed, how difficult it can be to solve shared global problem and made visible a historical political division between authoritarianism and democracy. An other important notion is the lack of marginalized groups in the news media.
  • Österblad, Ika (2016)
    Parasitoid host interactions are intimately associated with food web dynamics as well as with evolutionary change. The parasitoid s possibility to expand its host range or switch to different hosts is affected by parasitic strategy. Strong specialization to a narrow host repertoire can arise e.g. if the larva spends considerable time in close contact with an active, developing host (koinobiosis). In contrast, an ectoparasitic larva, growing rapidly on a sessile host, does not have to be equally tightly adapted to host physiology. This may permit a wider host range. However, there are other restricting factors, such as egg production capacity. Extant parasitoids show a staggering species diversity, most notably among the Hymenoptera. Theories concerning speciation in association with host range have been developed, but draw from knowledge of merely a small part of this diversity. This study adds information by showing a number of radical host shifts in the evolutionary history of the ichneumonid wasp genus Gelis. Species of this genus exploit either insect prepupae or spider eggs. These are similar in being rather defenceless, aside from a protective silk covering. Nonetheless, differences are large enough to restrict Gelis species to each utilise only one of the two groups. In order to trace ancient host group shifts, host data was mapped onto a phylogeny constructed through bayesian analysis of sequence data. Sequences from the COI (mitochondrial) and ITS2 (nuclear, noncoding) regions were used. The results suggested at least four host group shifts within the genus. In addition, wing reduction was found to have occurred in two different lineages. Through COI barcode sequence clustering supported by morphological traits, a previously undescribed species from the G. bicolor-species complex was detected. The phylogenetic analyses also indicated the existence of further cryptic species, and the genus Thaumatogelis Schwarz was found to be nested within Gelis.
  • Pasanen, Amanda (2022)
    Urban energy transitions play a key role in achieving climate targets and keeping the climate crisis from escalating. The district heating system of Helsinki has been characterised as a path-dependent and locked in system that will face difficulties in transitioning away from fossil fuels. In 2021 the city owned energy company Helen announced that it will quit coal burning in 2024, which is five years ahead of the national coal ban prohibiting coal use for energy in 2029. The coal phase out of Helsinki is a concrete example of a demanding coal phase out in a northern city with high energy demand. This thesis aims at answering the research question on how the multilevel policy mix, consisting of policy instruments on the municipal level, the national level, and the international level, contributed to the coal phase out of Helsinki. Through a case study approach relying on ten expert and stakeholder interviews as well as complementary material consisting of key strategy documents, this thesis aims to widen the understanding of the role of policy and politics in sustainability transitions and urban energy transitions. This study covers both policymaking and implementation processes as well as system impacts of the policy mix contributing to the coal phase out of Helsinki. Through empirical reviews the thesis contributes to the conceptualisation of policy mixes on multiple governance levels by studying the combined impact of policy instruments formed at the local, national, and international level. Regulatory policies on the national and international level (emissions trading, national ban on coal, taxation etc.), policies supporting low-carbon solutions on the national level (tax-exemptions) and climate target setting as well as support for low-carbon solutions on the municipal level (deregulation, innovation competitions) altogether contributed to the coal phase out. The findings of this study are in line with previous research emphasising the destabilisation of fossil fuel regimes to achieve transitions towards sustainability. Incorporating the elements of policy processes and strategies as well as policy effects and feedbacks into the concept of policy mixes is important to assess the efficacy and long-term impacts of policy mixes. The coherence of policies on multiple governance levels and the balance between regime destabilising and niche creating policies is also important in ensuring transitions towards sustainability. The results of this study support previous research findings on cities being important arenas and actors for sustainability transitions. Policies from different governance levels intersect on the urban level and decisions on infrastructure transformation are made on the municipal level.