Thesis subject

Properties of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.) protein and polysaccharide solutions and gels


Bambara groundnut [BGN] is a legume widely grown throughout tropical Africa and some parts of Asia.  Characterised by a rich nutritional composition, the seeds of BGN are considered a complete food and serves as an important food source in many rural communities.  Yet despite its promise, the crop is plagued by several negative connotations and continues to be cultivated as a subsistence crop with underutilised status.  The focus of recent research is therefore gravitating towards establishing the functionality of the various fractions in an attempt to highlight the socioeconomic importance of the crop.  Noteworthy is the reporting of emulsifying and foaming capabilities of BGN flour, starch and protein fractions as well as the emulsion stabilising effects of its soluble dietary fibres.  Although promising, these studies are only of an exploratory nature and more research is needed to grasp the true functionality and thus consequent end usage of the biopolymers from this crop.  This project therefore seeks to bridge this knowledge gap by linking the physicochemical properties of BGN protein and polysaccharides to their functionalities in foods.  It is envisaged that the insight into the molecular behaviour of these biopolymers will lead to several outcomes of high socioeconomic value.

 Research topics

  • Extraction and characterisation of BGN proteins and polysaccharides
  • Investigation of the protein-polysaccharide interactions
  • Investigation of the functionalities of these biopolymers in food systems


  • Electrophoresis
  • Osmometry
  • Light scattering
  • Spectroscopy
  • Microscopy
  • Rheology