Psyllium fibre: from molecular structure to human health


Psyllium fibre is an emerging and important source of dietary fibre, used in the treatment of many digestive disorders and extensively in the processing of foods, especially gluten free products. It has unique properties in the digestive tract due to its ability to hold water and delay fermentation in the gut. These properties arise because of the unique molecular architecture of the psyllium, which is a highly branched, complex polymer with a poorly understood structure.

This project will use cutting edge NMR techniques to probe the hydration and molecular dynamics of psyllium fibres obtained from different sources. In particular the project will focus on the mobility and hydration of side-chains in psyllium fibres with different structures. This will be used to undertsand the gelling and flow properties of the Psyllium fibres in a model of the human gut. Psyllium has delayed fermentation by the microbiota in the human colon, and this project will aim to undertsand this in terms of polymer hydration and gel forming properties.

Through this project, you will receive an excellent multi-disciplinary training in using advanced chemistry techniques to solve biological problems. In particular the application of advanced NMR spectroscopy methods for studying soft-matter systems Norwich is a leading centre for research into the interface between chemistry and microbiome research and this studentship will provide and excellent platform for launching a scientific career.