Supervisors: Jo Gould (PI) (Bioscience, UK), Tim Foster (Bioscience, UK), Peter Rose (Bioscience, UK) Based in the School of Biosciences, Sutton Bonington Campus, UK
Protein ingredients are vital for life providing amino acids for protein synthesis as well as stabilising a range of microstructures, which dictates the texture, shelf life stability and consumer consumption of the food product. Currently the manufacturing approach for protein ingredients largely consists of refining and fractionating proteins to produce isolates and concentrates. This route is both energy intensive, costly, and results in loss of nutrients and the generation of significant waste streams.
The aim of this study would be to investigate the protein structure without high refinement and therefore the protein component would be analysed alongside the accompanying macro and micro-nutrients beneficial to health as well as assessing the presence of those not beneficial to health. Studying the fundamental physicochemical properties of these protein ingredients at this scale will enable the use of minimally processed protein ingredients to engineer food microstructures. Raw materials utilised in this study will include an example of a pseudo cereal, a legume, an algae and an oilseed meal. The protein component of these raw materials could be present as protein bodies, free, bound or denatured, all of which will influence the transformation process. The transformation process will utilise milling, ultrasound, high pressure and temperature through use of subcritical water to disrupt the plant cell matrix with the subsequent multi-component material characterised. A focus of this study will be to investigate the protein component of this material in terms of the protein conformation and behaviour after transformation as well as the effect of ionic strength, pH and temperature on these ingredients.
Techniques will include microscopy, analytical ultra-centrifugation, NMR, FT-IR, surface hydrophobicity and thermal analysis. In addition, the impact of the transformation process on the anti-nutrients naturally found in these raw materials, as several are proteinaceous in nature, will also be investigated. The final stage of this studentship will characterise the conformation and behaviour of a mixed protein system containing at least two of the transformed and minimally processed ingredients. Understanding these systems could potentially enable a protein ingredient of the future containing a contribution to the diet of all of the essential amino acids in one sustainable ingredient.