Molecular structuring of foods to feed the gut microbiome


Developing the latest generation of foods requires detailed structural and chemical insights into the molecular scale structuring within a food, as well as the application of novel processing methods. This will allow the creation of novel foods which can be targeted to deliver highly accessible fermentable substrates to the gut microbiota.

Working with project partner PepsiCo, this studentship will apply advanced NMR spectroscopy approaches usually reserved for the analysis of pharmaceutical excipients to designing PepsiCo’ latest generation of snack foods. Innovative processing technologies developed in PepsiCo are allowing the production of food formulations with novel combinations of ingredients which result in unique structuring within the food. Using advanced NMR facilities available at UEA, this studentship will aim to investigate the formation of these structures within snack foods. This studentship will also explore the potential for these novel food materials to impact on the gut microbiome. These processing technologies will impact on the structuring and availability of carbohydrate substrates to the gut microbiota, and at Quadram the student use of advanced models of the human gut microbiota coupled with metagenomic and metabolomic approaches to probe the effects on the gut microbiota.

This studentship will provide the unique opportunity to work across three different research environments. Based at Quadram, which is a brand new, state of the art, custom built facility focussed on gut health and the microbiome, as a student you will also have the opportunity to work closely with the UEA School of Pharmacy, one of the UK’s leading Pharmacy Schools, as well as learning about the industrial application of research through placements at PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest companies. You will join the Norwich Research Park, one the largest concentrations of biological researchers in the UK, offering exceptional graduate research and training opportunities.


Ravi, A., Troncoso-Rey, P., Ahn-Jarvis, J., Corbin, K.R., Harris, S., Harris, H., Aydin, A., Kay, G.L., Le-Viet, T., Gilroy, R., Pallen, M.J., Page, A., O’Grady, J. and Warren, F.J. 2021. Linking carbohydrate structure with function in the human gut microbiome using hybrid metagenome assemblies. bioRxiv. doi:

Koev, T.T., Muñoz-García, J.C., Iuga, D., Khimyak, Y.Z. and Warren, F.J., 2020. Structural heterogeneities in starch hydrogels. Carbohydrate polymers, 249, p.116834.

Muñoz-García, J.C., Corbin, K.R., Hussain, H., Gabrielli, V., Koev, T., Iuga, D., Round, A.N., Mikkelsen, D., Gunning, P.A., Warren, F.J. and Khimyak, Y.Z., 2019. High molecular weight mixed-linkage glucan as a mechanical and hydration modulator of bacterial cellulose: Characterization by advanced NMR spectroscopy. Biomacromolecules, 20(11), pp.4180-4190.