Curriculum vitae

Ever since starting my PhD and even my undergraduate work at the University of Vienna in Austria (under the supervision of Prof. Heribert Hirt and Dr. Claudia Jonak) I have been interested in protein kinases and protein phosphorylation in signal transduction in plants. Protein phosphorylation is a simple post-translational modification which is relatively “cheap” for a cell with a cost of one ATP per event. However, with the large number of protein kinases encoded in plant genomes protein kinase signaling cascades – or much rather networks – allow for an astonishing complexity of regulatory dynamics which are centrally involved in plant development, responses to abiotic stimuli from the environment and also the response to pathogens and beneficial microbes alike.

With my postdoctoral research at the University of Helsinki in Finland I broadened my interest and focussed on reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS had previously considered to be cytotoxic compounds but over the last decade their intriguing roles as elements of signal transduction have become more prominent. Like phosphorylation, ROS are essential signal carriers in plant development, abiotic and biotic environmental responses.

My research group is now combining those interests to study the involvement of receptor-like protein kinases (RLKs) in ROS signal transduction. RLK activation results in most cases in the active production of ROS in the extracellular space (the so-called apoplast, Kimura et al., 2017). This “ROS burst” is an integral component of signaling. However, other responses are ROS-independent and RLKs also mediate the balanced triggering of ROS-dependent and -independent signaling networks following signal perception. This early decision point is of crucial importance for a comprehensive and fine-tuned response.


Curriculum vitae – Dr. Michael Alois Wrzaczek

Academy Research Fellow
Docent (Adjunct Professor)
Date of the CV: August 14, 2018
Gender: Male

Citizenship: Austrian

Work address:
Plant Biology Division
Department of Biosciences
University of Helsinki
Viikinkaari 1, POB 65
Fi-00014 Helsinki
Office Phone: +358 2941 57773

Research group webpage

Education and degrees awarded
  • Docent in plant molecular physiology and bioinformatics, University of Helsinki, March 1, 2011.
  • Doctoral degree, University of Vienna, Dept of Microbiology and Genetics, Austria. Subject: Genetics. November 9, 2004. Group of Dr. Claudia Jonak. Title: “MsK1, a Glycogen Synthase Kinase from Medicago sativa, Modulates Plant Stress Tolerance”.
  • Master’s degree, University of Vienna, Dept of Microbiology and Genetics, Austria. Subject: Human biology. January 16, 2001. Group of Prof. Dr. Heribert Hirt. Title: “Characterisation of interaction partners of the Glycogen synthase kinase-3 homologues MsK4 and MsK5 in Medicago sativa”.
Other education and training, qualifications and skills
  • Selected for participation in the highly competitive Arabidopsis Molecular Genetics course at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, USA (June 29 – July 20, 2001).
Language skills
  • German – native speaker
  • English – excellent (self-assessment of language skills C2 for listening, reading, speaking and writing)
  • French – basic (self-assessment of language skills B1 for listening, reading, speaking and writing)
  • Finnish – intermediate (self-assessment of language skills B1 for listening, speaking and writing, B2 for reading)
Current position
  • Academy Research Fellow (September 1, 2014 – August 31, 2019), Academy of Finland (decision #275632), and group leader in the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology of Primary Producers (2014-2019; Primaarituottajien molekyylibiologian huippuyksikkö), Academy of Finland (decision #271832) starting from January 1st, 2014.
    The Receptor-ligand signaling group consists of Dr. Michael Wrzaczek (principal investigator), Dr. Sachie Kimura (postdoc), Ms. Aleksia Vaattovaara (doctoral student), Ms. Kerri Hunter (doctoral student), Ms. Huiting Jin (doctoral student, from October 2016).  Currently two undergraduate students – Mr. Nghia Le Tri and Mrs. Rajita Thapa – are also working in the group.
  • Principal investigator at University of Helsinki (March 2013)
  • Independent researcher (research career phase 3)
Previous work experience
  • Junior group leader of the RLK, ROS perception and cell death team associated with the plant stress group of Prof. Jaakko Kangasjärvi. January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2013.
  • Post-Doctoral researcher and junior group leader at the University of Helsinki associated with the group of Prof. Jaakko Kangasjärvi funded by a Helsinki University post-doc project “Novel mechanisms in the regulation of programmed cell death in plants”. Period: January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2010
  • Post-Doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki in the group of Prof. Dr. Jaakko Kangasjärvi (Plant Stress Group) in the Academy of Finland-funded project “Functional genomics of oxygen radical perception and signaling in plants”. February 1, 2005 – December 31, 2007
  • Doctoral student at the Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, University of Vienna in the Group of Dr. Claudia Jonak. February 1, 2001 – December 31, 2004.
  • Academy of Finland Research Fellow “Understanding peptide ligands and their receptors in plants ” (decisions #275632; decisions #283139 and #312498 for research costs) September 1, 2014 – August 31, 2019.
  • Prime-X grant for proteomic analysis of secreted peptides in plant suspension culture (Collaboration with Dr. Hannele Tuominen, Dr. Simon Stael, Prof. Frank Van Breusegem, Prof. Kris Gevaert), March 2014.
  • Academy of Finland Travel grant 2014.
  • University of Helsinki Three-Year-Grant “Cell death regulation by small extracellular proteins in plants” (145 000 €). January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2015.
  • University of Helsinki Post-Doctoral Researcher grant. January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2010.
  • Coordinator for the application and leading junior group leader of the European Research Area Plant Genomics (ERA PG; consortium ”PROSIG”  (2009-2012) together with Prof. David Collinge and Dr. Michael Lyngkjær (Denmark), Dr. Silke Robatzek (UK), Prof. Stanislaw Karpinski (Poland) and Dr. Jan Willem Borst (Netherlands). Project was accepted for funding in 2008.
  • Postdoctoral advisor for Dr. Takamisu Kurusu (September to December 2017)
  • Supervisor for Master student Nghia Le Tri (2017)
  • Postdoctoral advisor for Dr. Derek Collinge (August 2015 to July 2016).
  • Postdoctoral advisor for Dr. Sachie Kimura (from October 2014).
  • Supervisor for doctoral student Msc. Huiting Jin (from October 2016).
  • Supervisor for doctoral student Msc. Kerri Hunter (from May 2014).
  • Supervisor for doctoral student Msc. Aleksia Vaattovaara (from April 2013).
  • Postdoctoral advisor for Dr. Adrien Gauthier together with Prof. Jaakko Kangasjärvi (2009-2015).
  • Co-supervisor for doctoral student Msc. Niina Idänheimo with Prof. Jaakko Kangasjärvi (from 2007; Defense December 18, 2014, opponent Prof. Alistair Hetherington).
Host and supervisor for exchange students
  • 2018: Mr. Markus Laurel (University of Helsinki, Finland)
  • 2017/2018: Ms. Maya Wilkens (University of Braunschweig, Germany)
  • 2017: Ms. Lena Meißner (University of Braunschweig, Germany)
  • 2017: Markéta Luklová (Mendel University, Brno, Czech Republic)
  • 2017: Mr. Simon Schmitz (University of Braunschweig, Germany)
  • 2016: Mr. Awais Zahid Muhammad (University of Hohenheim, Germany)
  • 2016: Mrs. Rajita Thapa (Nepal)
  • 2014: Mr. Pawel Burdiak (Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland)
  • 2014: Ms. Daniela Van Thiel (University of Braunschweig, Germany)
  • 2012: Mr. David Kaufholdt (University of Braunschweig, Germany)
  • 2011: Ms. Jennifer Sand (University of Münster, Germany)
  • 2010: Mr. Hansjörg Stampfl (Gregor-Mendel-Institute, Austria)
  • Each visit lasted four months. I arranged the visit and planned the research project for the student. The students were supervised by me during their visit.
  • Supervisor for for Molecular Biotechnology: Ms. Salla Jalkanen in Practice work (February-March 2015), Mr. Robin Moore (April-May 2015), Mr. Nghia Le Tri (from April 2016).
  • Supervisor for Ms. Susanna Tarkiainen in Practice work for Biochemistry (Spring 2013).
Merits in teaching and pedagogical competence
  • Course in University Pedagogics – Constructive alignment (UP1, 2 modules, 10 credits), autumn 2012.
  • Course in University Pedagogics – Assessment of learning (UP4, 1 module, 5 credits), spring 2013.
  • Course in University Pedagogics – Academic supervising (UP3, 1 module, 5 credits; autumn 2013).
  • Course “Leadership Program for Academic Staff at University of Helsinki” (winter 2013/2014).
  • Teaching “Cell walls in plants” – lecture course 2019, session on cell wall signal transduction (University of Helsinki, Finland).
  • Teaching “Plants in a changing world” – lecture course 2017 and 2018.
  • Teaching “Gene family evolution in plants” – invited teacher Tokyo University of Science, Noda, Japan, 2016 and 2017.
  • Teaching “Signal transduction in plants” – lecture course August 2016. I designed and managed the course and coordinated the teachers
  • Methods in molecular biology (“Übung im Pflichtfach Gen- und Biotechnologie ”) at University of Vienna (2002-2004) together with Dr. Claudia Jonak and Prof. Heribert Hirt.
  • Teaching: Practical course “Advanced Course in Plant Molecular Biology”, together with Jaakko Kangasjärvi, Pinja Jaspers, Tiina Blomster, Airi Lamminmäki and Mikael Brosché (University of Helsinki).
  • Development and teaching of the practical course “Advanced Computer Methods for Biologists”. I initiated the course to introduce biology students to advanced computer techniques to facilitate interaction with bioinformaticians and to allow efficient computer work. I am the main organizer and one of the teachers on the course for the past years.
  • Member of the follow-up group for Mrs. Pooneh Sotoudehnia (University of Turku, Finland; Supervisor: Dr. Esa Tyystjärvi), Mrs. Moona Rahikainen (University of Turku, Finland; Supervisor: Dr. Saijaliisa Kangasjärvi), Mrs. Yafei Zhao (University of Helsinki, Finland; Supervisor: Prof. Paula Elomaa) and Mr. Raffael Lichtenberger (University of Helsinki, Finland; Supervisor: Prof. Ykä Helariutta).
  • Member of reading and PhD committee (opponent) for Mr. Lorin Mignolet (Ghent University and VIB, Belgium; December 2014 – March 2015).
Other academic merits
  • Chair of the organizing committee for the 29th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) 2018 in Turku, Finland.
  • Shortlisted for Associate Professorship at HiLife Institute University of Helsinki.
  • Considered for position of Senior Lecturer in Molecular Cell Biology at Lund University, Sweden.
  • MASC (Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee) coordinator for Finland from 2014.
  • Panel member for National Science Center Poland (Poland, 2018).
  • Grant reviewer for the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG, Germany, 2014, 2015, 2017), National Science Foundation (NSF, USA; 2014), National Science Center Poland (Poland, 2012-2016), the Einstein Foundation (2013, Germany), the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OKTA; Hungary, 2013-2015) and the FWO (Belgium, 2015 and 2016).
  • Reviewer for international scientific journals including Nature Communications, Annals of Botany, BMC Genomics, Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Physiologia Plantarum, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, New Phytologist, Journal of Plant Physiology, Scientific Reports, Molecular Plant Pathology, PLoS One, Journal of Experimental Botany, Plant Signaling and Behavior.
  • Guest editor for the ROS special issue of Physiologia Plantarum (January 2010) together with Prof. Jaakko Kangasjärvi and Dr. Kirk Overmyer on the occasion of the Plant ROS 2009 meeting in Helsinki.
  • Organizer of the Finnish-Japanese Meeting 2016 together with Dr. Yagut Allahverdieyeva.
  • Organizer of the 2nd SPPS Career PI Meeting (Sweden, November 2015) together with Dr. Karin Stensjö.
  • Secretary for the organization of the 1st SPPS Early Career PI Meeting (Naantali, Finland, November 25-26, 2014)
  • Participation and assistance (responsible for computer systems) in the organization of the Plant Phosphorylation meeting in Vienna in September 2001.
  • Participation and assistance in the organization of the XVI FESPB conference in Tampere, Finland, August 17-22, 2008.
  • Member of the organizing committee for the Plant ROS 2009 meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 8-10 2009.
Scientific and societal impact of research

27 total publications in Google Scholar. H-index: 17, 861 citations since 2012 (as of 13 August 2018).

Invited lectures
  • University of Prague (hosted by Prof. Viktor Zarsky), Czech Republic, December 2018
  • CEITEC, Brno (hosted by Prof. Karel Riha), Czech Republic, December 2018
  • Nara Institute of Technology (hosted by Prof. Shunsuke Miyashima), Japan, October 2018
  • Nagoya University (hosted by Prof. Hirofumi Yoshioka), Japan, October 2018
  • Tokyo University of Science (hosted by Prof. Kazuyuki Kuchitsu), Japan, March 2018
  • Kyoto, Kyoto University (hosted by Prof. Yasuo Mori), Japan, March 2018.
  • Colchester, University of Essex (hosted by Prof. Philip Mullineaux), UK, March 2018.
  • Saitama, Saitama University (hosted by Prof. Masatsugu Toyota), Japan, December 2017.
  • Tokyo University of Science (hosted by Prof. Satoru Miyazaki and Prof. Kazuyuki Kuchitsu), Japan, December 2017.
  • Munich, Technical University Munich (hosted by Dr. Stefanie Ranf), Germany, September 29, 2017.
  • Danforth Plant Science Centre, St. Louis, USA (hosted by Prof. Dilip Shah), June 25, 2017
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria (hosted by Prof. Marie-Theres Hauser), Mai 8, 2017
  • Tokyo University of Science (hosted by Prof. Satoru Miyazaki and Prof. Kazuyuki Kuchitsu), Japan, December 2016.
  • Kyoto University (hosted by Prof. Takayuki Kohchi and Prof. Ryuichi Nishihama), Japan, December 2016.
  • University of Nottingham, UK (hosted by Prof. Malcolm Bennett and Dr. Anthony Bishopp), May 4, 2016.
  • University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway (hosted by Prof. Melinka Butenko), March 7, 2016.
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway (hosted by Dr. Tore Brembu), March 4, 2016.
  • RIKEN Tsukuba (hosted by Dr. Fuminori Tahakashi), Japan, October 2014.
  • RIKEN Yokohama (hosted by Dr. Hirofumi Nakagami), Japan, October 2014.
  • Tokyo University of Science (hosted by Prof. Kazuyuki Kuchitsu), Japan, October 2014.
Regular presenter at international scientific conferences.Oral presentations at conferences
  • Invited Keynote Speaker for the 4th International Conference on Plant Proteases and Programmed Cell Death (PPPCD) 2018, Ghent, Belgium, September 11-13, 2018
  • Invited speaker 5th International Conference on Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 2018, Vienna, Austria, July 9-10, 2018.
  • Invited speaker 5th International Conference on Abiotic Stress Tolerance 2018, Vienna, Austria, July 5-6, 2018.
  • Invited speaker JSPP conference, Sapporo, Japan, March 2018.
  • Invited speaker EMBO Conference on Micro and metabolic regulators in plants, Trivandrum, Kerala, India, February 1-5, 2017.
  • 2016 Finnish-Japanese Seminar. Saariselkä, Finland, September 2016.
  • Norwegian Plant Biology Meeting, Trondheim, Norway, June 15-17, 2016.
  • Oral presentation at the 3rd Plant Peptide Meeting in Ghent, Belgium, 2015
  • Oral presentation at the ICAR 2015 Meeting, Paris, France.
  • Invited speaker at the 7th BCRB Fall Symposium, Brussels, Belgium, December 5, 2014.
  • 2014 Finnish-Japanese Seminar. Sapporo, Japan, October 2014.
  • 2014 Plant Peptides Meeting. Regensburg, Germany, September 3-4, 2014.
  • 2014 Keystone Symposium “Dynamic signaling properties in plants”. Breckenridge, Colorado, USA, February 5-10, 2014.
  • 2013 11th International POG Conference on Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species in Plants. Warsaw, Poland, July 17-19, 2013.
  • 2013 Plant Symposium of the SEB: “Oxidative stress and cell death in plants: mechanisms and implications”. Florence, Italy, June 26-28, 2013.
  • Invited Speaker at the 10th Finnish Plant Science Days 2013, Helsinki, Finland, May 13-15, 2013.
    Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance II Conference. Vienna, Austria, February 22-25, 2012.
  • Plant ROS 2009 Conference, Helsinki, Finland, July 8-10, 2009
  • Japanese-Finnish Seminar 2008 “Genomics and Molecular Mechanisms of Photosynthetic Organisms”, Helsinki, Finland, October 28-November 1, 2008