We are currently advertising National Productivity Investment Fund Industrial CASE studentships with a deadline of the 16th July 2018.

02 / 10 / 2017

Natural blues: structure meets function in plant natural products (MARTIN_J18DTP)

how to apply

Anthocyanins are water-soluble plant natural pigments producing the familiar colours of many fruits and flowers. They have enormous potential as natural food colourants from orange through red and purple to blue.

The butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) makes intensely blue-coloured flowers pigmented by highly decorated delphinium-based anthocyanins. Petals of this plant are used to make blue tea, popular in Asian countries, and anthocyanins from flowers, as a traditional food, represent a new source of blue natural colours. Anthocyanins of butterfly pea have remarkable stability in solution even at room temperature However, the anthocyanins in extracts represent a range of intermediates with different chemical decorations and different functionalities in terms of their colour, shade and stability in different environmental conditions.

This project would suit a student with interests in natural product chemistry and will involve a multidisciplinary collaboration between Cathie Martin at JIC and Zoe Waller and Jesus Angulo in the School of Pharmacy at UEA. The project will involve purifying the different anthocyanins from butterfly pea flowers, characterizing their functional properties and relating these to their structures to be defined by state-of-the-art natural product analyses; high resolution NMR spectroscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and circular dichroism.

UEA and NRP provide courses to train students in new techniques, data handling, computational methods as well as transferable skills in paper and grant writing and presentation skills. The DTP studentship includes a 3-month secondment to work in an area unrelated to the PhD to develop additional transferable skills for broader experience for career development.