Primary Supervisor - Dr Fred Warren
The project will explore the bioaccessibility of prebiotic fibres from natural matrices. Most of the evidence on the efficacy of prebiotics (fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS)) has been collated using the extracted and highly refined oligomers. There is an increasing emphasis on minimally processed foods and moves away from highly refined materials would meet this need. Such minimal processing of natural plant-based starting materials which control the accessibility of the constituent oligomers might include fermentation, the use of enzymes, technologies such as pulse electric fields and thermo/physico mechanical preprocessing and the degree of ripening of the starting material. These processes will create changes in both the degree of polymerization of the ‘parent’ polysaccharide and the diffusivity of the oligosaccharides from the natural matrices – which both in turn will affect the fermentation kinetics and gut microbiota composition in the small-to-large bowel. Such natural matrices may also be dried to be used in ‘model’ food products (such as baked crackers) where the amount of prebiotic (parent molecule to soluble oligosaccharides) can be controlled.
The project therefore sits at the interface between physical sciences and digestive science and will form an innovative and full comparison of prebiotic sources and the extent to which they can be controlled through pre-processing, to measure the effect on in gut fermentation, and subsequent effects on the gut microbiota and metabolic markers. The student will develop a range of skills including microbiome analysis with shotgun metagenomic and bioinformatic approaches, metabolomics analysis and food structure and processing with an industrial element through Campden BRI, the industrial partner for this project.
Work will primarily be carried out at the Quadram Institute, but access to laboratory and process facilities at Campden BRI will be available. A minimum of a 3-month placement at Campden BRI will be part of the 4-year PhD study.
This project is part of a BBSRC-funded Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) with The Food Consortium CTP. The student undertaking this project would be based at the Quadram Institute Bioscience.
For further information and to apply, please visit our website.