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Sainsbury Laboratory

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.

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.


Key Publications

Miyashima S, Roszak P, Sevilem I, Toyokura K, Blob B, Heo JO, Mellor N, Help-Rinta-Rahko H, Otero S, Smet W, Boekschoten M, Hooiveld G, Hashimoto K, Smetana O, Siligato R, Wallner ES, Mähönen AP, Kondo Y, Melnyk CW, Greb T, Nakajima K, Sozzani R, Bishopp A, De Rybel B, Helariutta Y. (2019) Mobile PEAR transcription factors integrate positional cues to prime cambial growth. Nature 565: 490-494.

Ross-Elliott TJ, Jensen KH, Haaning KS, Wager BM, Knoblauch J, Howell AH, Mullendore DL, Monteith AG, Paultre D, Yan D, Otero S, Bourdon M, Sager R, Lee JY, Helariutta Y, Knoblauch M, Oparka KJ. (2017) Phloem unloading in Arabidopsis roots is convective and regulated by the phloem-pole pericycle. Elife 6. pii: e24125.

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, Y. (2014) Arabidopsis NAC45/86 direct sieve element morphogenesis culminating in enucleationScience 345: 933-937

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 communicationNature Communications 5: 4276.


Ruonala R, Ko D, Helariutta Y. (2017) Genetic Networks in Plant Vascular Development. Annu Rev Genet. 51:335-359.

Blob B, Heo JO, Helariutta Y. (2018) Phloem differentiation: an integrative model for cell specification. J Plant Res. 131:31-36.


Research supported by grants from

Research Group Leader
Professor Yrjö  Helariutta

Contact Details

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street
+44(0)1223 761144