Plant cell walls structure and porosity

Plant cell walls structure and porosity in relation to digestibility of legume and cereal proteins.

Knowing that the half of the world population is afflicted by malnutrition, the core challenge of our times is to provide all people with enough nutrients. Indeed, increasing the availability of plant protein that are often associated with low digestibility is mandatory. Accumulating evidence shows that the structure and properties of legumes and cereals, particularly of cell wall play an important role in regulating the release/availability of protein from legumes and cereals during mastication and digestion. However, the way plant food have been processed, chewed and digested promotes the protein release through cell rupture or cell separation and can also enhance the bioavailability of protein, a significant proportion of cell wall may remain intact, thus affecting the rate and extent of protein digestion.

This project is aimed to assess the effect of food processing and digestion on cell wall integrity and protein release from fractured and intact cells.

We are currently working on better understanding of the relationship between intact / broken cells properties and protein digestibility in selected legumes and cereals. Several approaches can be used to alter cell wall integrity of samples. Treated samples will be digested using the COST INFOGEST protocol. The changes in cell wall structure after treatments and digestion will be assessed by chemical analyses and light microscopy. O-phthaldialdehyde (OPA) method will be used to quantify protein hydrolysis.

Future research
 We expect that integration of particle size reduction and boiling will open a door to intercellular protein release, although final values varied will be depended on the degree of cell wall rapture or broken.

References 1.Dhital, S., Bhattarai, R.R., Gorham, J. and Gidley, M.J., 2016. Intactness of cell wall structure controls the in vitro digestion of starch in legumes. Food & function, 7(3), pp.1367-1379.

2. Minekus, M., Alminger, M., Alvito, P., Ballance, S., Bohn, T.O.R.S.T.E.N., Bourlieu, C., Carriere, F., Boutrou, R., Corredig, M., Dupont, D. and Dufour, C., 2014. A standardised static in vitro digestion method suitable for food–an international consensus. Food & function, 5(6), pp.1113-1124.

3. Schasteen, C.S., Wu, J., Schulz, M.G. and Parsons, C.M., 2007. Correlation of an immobilized digestive enzyme assay with poultry true amino acid digestibility for soybean meal. Poultry science, 86(2), pp.343-348.