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Professor Yrjö Helariutta

Professor Yrjö Helariutta


Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR
Office Phone: +44(0)1223 761144


Ykä Helariutta received his MSc (1990) and PhD (1995) from the University of Helsinki. Following a post-doctoral fellowship in the Benfey lab at New York University, he returned to Helsinki (1998) to launch his own research group focused on vascular development and wood formation.  In 2001 he was selected for an EMBO Young Investigator award, and in 2008 he became an EMBO Member. Ykä was also awarded an ESF Young Investigator grant in 2005 and became director of the Genome Biology Research Program at the University of Helsinki's Institute of Biotechnology in 2011. In 2013, he was selected to be a professor of the Academy of Finland. Furthermore, his lab has frequently been part of the Center of Excellence Programmes of the Academy of Finland.

Research Interests

Ykä is primarily interested in understanding the patterning processes involved in plant development. Following his PhD work on floral development in gerbera and a post-doc investigating root development in Arabidopsis, he focused on vascular development when starting his own research group. Vascular tissues provide plants with long-distance transport of water and nutrients, as well as structural support. Vascular development is therefore highly regulated, making it an excellent system in which to study patterning and development. Understanding the processes that establish and maintain vascular tissues also has significant practical implications, since these tissues comprise wood.

Key Publications

Furuta, K.M., Yadav,S.R., Lehesranta,S., Belevich, I., Miyashima, S., Heo, J., Vatén, A., Lindgren, O., De Rybel, B., Van Isterdael, G., Somervuo, P., Lichtenberger, R., Rocha, R., Thitamadee, S., Tähtiharju, S., Auvinen, P., Beeckman, T., Jokitalo, E., Helariutta, YArabidopsis NAC45/86 direct sieve element morphogenesis culminating in enucleation. Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1253736.

Dettmer J, Ursache R, Campilho A, Miyashima S, Belevich I, O’Regan S, Mullendore DL, Yadav SR, Lanz C, Papagni A, Schneeberger K, Weigel D, Stierhof YD, Moritz T, Knoblauch M, Jokitalo E, Helariutta Y (2014) CHOLINE TRANSPORTER-LIKE1 is required for sieve plate development to mediate long-distance cell-to-cell communication. Nature Communications, in press.

Vatén A, Dettmer J, Wu S, Stierhof Y, Miyashima S, Yadav SR, Roberts CJ, Campilho A, Bulone V, Lichtenberger R, Lehesranta S, Mähönen AP, Kim JY, Sauer N, Scheres B, Carlsbecker A, Gallagher KL, Helariutta Y. (2011) Callose Biosynthesis Regulates Symplastic Trafficking During Root Development. Developmental Cell 21:1144-55.

Bishopp A, Help H, El-Showk S, Weijers D, Scheres B, Friml J, Benková E, Mähönen AP, Helariutta Y. (2011) A mutually inhibitory interaction between auxin and cytokinin specifies vascular pattern in roots. Current Biology 21:917-26.

Other Publications


Furuta KM, Hellmann E, Helariutta Y. (2014) Molecular control of cell specification and cell differentiation during procambial development. Annu Rev Plant Biol. 65:607-38.

Miyashima S, Sebastian J, Lee JY, Helariutta Y. (2013) Stem cell function during plant vascular development. EMBO J. 32:178-93.

Related links:

Prof Helariutta's group in Helsinki

The Finnish Center of Excellence in the Molecular Biology of Primary Producers (2014-2019)

This figure presents some of the various markers used in our research. 

The first panel is a graphical illustration of the various cell types within the Arabidopsis thaliana primary root. The following images are optical, plastic and paraffin cross sections at the meristematic region of primary roots analyzed 5 days post germination, cropped to show the vascular cylinder and endodermis. The majority of these markers are in wild type and some are in mutant background.


Research supported by grants from: