Type 1 resistant starch: a journey through the gut


Most adults in the UK are overweight or obese, and the food industry are urgently seeking to develop healthier processed foods. One solution is to replace ‘available starch’ in the diet with ‘resistant starch’ that is not digested to glucose in the upper-gut. In this project you will study the effect of plant cells – a source of Type 1 Resistant Starch (RS1) – on the colonic microbiome and share the findings with the industrial partner, AB Mauri, who are global leaders in Bakery ingredients.

You will join an innovative research group studying nutrient bioavailability in the human gut, and interact with experts in translational microbiome research. Laboratory training in physical and biochemical techniques, microbiology and bioinformatics will be provided. There are opportunities to participate in international conferences, and you will gain experience communicating scientific results to different audiences and writing manuscripts for publication in high quality journals. You will also gain exposure to strategic innovation, and research and development within a global company.

This project will determine mechanisms controlling digestion of RS1-containing plant cells through the gut. You will subject starch-rich materials to the latest biochemical models simulating the human gut and collect samples to monitor digestion and fermentation progress. You will apply analytical techniques (LC-MS, confocal microscopy etc.) to monitor metabolite formation and structural changes, then combine this with metagenomic sequencing and bioinformatics to study the effects on the microbiome. There are further opportunities to undertake studies with human participants and/or pursue therapeutic applications.

We seek an inquisitive, proactive student who is interested in food and the gut, with a degree in biochemistry, microbology or similar subject. Whilst some knowledge of carbohydrate fermentation is highly desirable, a scientific mindset and a willingness to learn and engage in inter-disciplinary and industry-facing research is most essential.