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Hypobaric hydrogen sulfide; a novel means to prevent food spoilage

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 11, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The ability of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to combat infection was first discovered in plants, which in response to stress, release several volatile sulphur containing compounds (H2S, COS, DMS, CS2, and methylmercaptan) (Bloem et al., 2005 J. Plant Nutr. 28:63-784,). Scientists have recently mimicked this plant response by using the chemical NaHS to release H2S gas and shown that this process inhibits the growth of several fungi and food-borne bacteria on the surface of fruit in a manner that slows down food spoilage (Hu et al., 2014. PLoS ONE 9(1): e85524). However, at present little is known about the scope of this approach in the food industry because the range of food borne fungi and microbes that H2S can kill has not been investigated. In addition, a means to use H2S at an industrial scale has not yet been developed and more research is needed to the understand H2S gas release from its chemical donors and its mechanism of action.

The aim of this PhD project is to determine how the type of H2S donor and delivery conditions, especially the use of hypobaric delivery, influence the antifungal and antibacterial action of H2S. It is anticipated that fulfilling this aim will provide the basis to develop a new industrial process to control fungal and microbial growth on foods, slow down food spoilage and reduce food waste.
This PhD project will provide training in chemistry, physical chemistry, drug delivery, microbiology and mycology. The work is part funded by an industrial partner and the PhD student will spend a 3 month placement with the industrial partner. During the placement the student will learn about the fresh food produce production, they isolate quality control samples and test their novel antifungal approached on this ‘real-life’ samples. The student will benefit from the LIDO community events and the vibrant postgraduate community at King’s College London.

Application Deadline

Applications must be complete, including both references, by 11th January 2019 at 5pm

Funding Notes

Fully funded place including home (UK) tuition fees and a tax-free stipend in the region of £16,553. Students from the EU are welcome to submit an application for funding, any offers will be subject to BBSRC approval and criteria.


Wani, S., Barnes, J., & Singleton, I. (2015). Investigation of potential reasons for bacterial survival on ‘ready-to-eat’ leafy produce during exposure to gaseous ozone. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 111, (185-190). doi:10.1016/j.postharvbio.2015.08.007. ISSN 0925-5214

Inacio, R., Poland, S., Cai, X.J., Cleary, S.J., Ameer-Beg, S., Keeble, J., Jones, S.A. The application of local hypobaric pressure - A novel means to enhance macromolecule entry into the skin (2016) Journal of Controlled Release, 226, pp. 66-76.

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