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

02 / 10 / 2017

Plant cell wall hydrogels: exploring hierarchy of structure (KHIMYAK_U18DTP)

how to apply

Plant cell walls (PCW) represent a wide diversity of materials generated from crop and plant residues with huge potential for application as biofuels and important source of dietary fibre in human foods. PCW consist of several different polysaccharides (cellulose, xyloglucan, pectin, -glucan etc.) which are assembled into a hierarchical structure with high levels of heterogeneities resulting from the diversity of polysaccharide components, the complexity of their interactions with each other and the presence of domains of different levels of ordering (i.e. amorphous, semi-crystalline and ordered regions). The detailed assessment of structural and functional heterogeneities in PCW mimics will be important for understanding the mechanism of formation of PCW and correlating the strength and extent of inter-chain interaction with mechanical properties of PCW.

This PhD studentship aims to elucidate functional heterogeneities in hierarchical PCW hydrogels. By generating PCW mimics from different multiple polysaccharide sources we will achieve control of the extent of heterogeneities. These features will be compared with natural PCW.

Based on the unique NMR infrastructure in NRP, we will use multiphase NMR spectroscopy to assess PCW hydrogels based on multiple carbohydrate components across different lengths scales and dynamic regimes. A very high complexity of PCW will be tackled by our unique experimental expertise linking structural and biosynthetic approaches across different length scales and dynamics heterogeneities developed in collaboration between UEA and QIB.

This project is also an excellent training opportunity for a young scientist to gain research skills in both the preparation and advanced characterisation of novel biomaterials.