PhD - Plant protein hydrolysates as a source of metal chelating peptides for targeting iron deficiency

Job Description

Globally, more than 1 billion people suffer from iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) and about 2 billion have some form of iron deficiency. From paediatric to geriatric populations, iron deficiency leads to not only anaemia but other comorbidities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, decreased cognitive performance (children and pre-menopausal women) as well as sleeping disorders. Recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron is 18 mg for females and 8 mg for males. Dietary sources of iron occur as heme iron in the form of animal foods like meat, seafood, and poultry and nonheme iron in plant foods like fortified cereals, lentils, tofu, spinach, dried fruits, broccoli and nuts. Researchers have found heme iron to be more readily absorbed by the body at 15-35% while non heme iron has 2-20% absorption rate. With increased emphasis on plant-based sustainable diets, it is imperative to explore ways to enhance bioavailability of nonheme iron in the diets of vegetarians and vegans. Metal chelating peptides released from plant and animal protein have been reported to increase solubility, bioavailability, absorption and stability of dietary iron. Researchers have hydrolysed milk proteins, soybeans, shrimp by-products to isolate metal binding peptides for possible application in human nutrition. This study proposes hydrolysis of target plant protein to release metal binding peptides that can be isolated and purified through various chromatographic techniques and characterised using mass spectrometry. Further few studies have explored the digestion and absorption of these metal binding peptides and the work proposes using simulated digestions methods to study this crucial aspect. Unabsorbed iron in known to cause gut inflammation and dysbiosis. Therefore, the role of these peptides in optimising iron nutrition while maintaining gut homeostasis will be of great significance. The study will further contribute towards utilization of protein hydrolysate as an iron supplement with additional gut health benefits.

Student Requirements for this Project Min. 2.1 BSc in Microbiology; Food Science, Biochemistry, Biotechnology

Self Funded (Scholarship not available. Fees & Materials to be paid by the student. Materials costs are significant If you are interested in submitting an application for this project, please complete an Expression of Interest.