PhD Prebiotics from the Plant Kingdom

PhD Prebiotics from the Plant Kingdom

Published Deadline Location
16 Dec 21 Jan Wageningen

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Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate for the project "Pre biotics from plant kingdom side streams". The selected PhD candidate will work within a Topsector Agri&Food consortium with WU Food Chemistry ,Wageningen Food and Biobased Research and two related companies. The project aims to investigate how prebiotic and bioactive fibres can enzymatically be produced from plant by-products from the agricultural industry and to understand their fermentation and immune-modulating properties and to propose a novel enzyme-based production method for outstanding prebiotics.
Fruit and vegetable by-products are a rich source of dietary fibers representing plant cell wall polysaccharides like pectin, xyloglucans, mannans and cellulose. The precise structural features of these polymers strongly depend on the type of plant material as well as the process used. This complexity and the present unavailability of enzymes to tailor and degrade polysaccharides in a highly specific and desired way hampers till now the isolation of uniform oligosaccharide preparations with a clear and unambiguous bioactivity.

The PhD candidate will analyze the chemical composition of selected fibre-rich side streams from fruit and vegetables to establish which enzymes would be required to release desired oligosaccharide structures. Subsequently, enzyme preparations from the industrial partner will be tested and specific enzymes purified, biochemically characterized and used to obtain structurally different prebiotic mixtures. Then the PhD will use these oligosaccharides and study potential prebiotics activity using in vitro simulation of human intestinal tract fermentation. Both the isolated prebiotics and fermentation digesta will be studied for direct effects on the host's gut and immune system using in vitro cultured epithelial tissue and by making use of challenge models of gut barrier function. The precise structure of individual bioactive oligosaccharide structures will be elucidated using LC-MS and NMR approaches.


Wageningen University & Research


For this challenging position we are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:
  • MSc in the field of (Analytical) Chemistry, Food Chemistry, Biotechnology or Molecular Life Sciences and affinity to carbohydrates chemistry/enzymology/biofunctionality;
  • intrinsic interest to independently search for answers on fundamental and applied research questions;
  • experience with chromatography, mass spectrometry, NMR or cell based assays, immunology and microbiota is a benefit;
  • excellent research skills;
  • ability to work in a multi-disciplinary project;
  • excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (both oral and written).
The selected PhD fellow should have passed for an English proficiency test (e.g. TOEFLL or IELTS) or have an approved English MSc degree.

Conditions of employment

We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2325,-. in the first year rising up to € 2972,- per month in the fourth year, based on a full-time appointment.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.

We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialized research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, it is one of the leading organizations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.
The Laboratory of Food Chemistry (FCH) engages in teaching and research on chemical reactions occurring during processing of raw materials into foods, on the functionality of food ingredients, and on the efficient conversion of biomass remaining after processing. The research of FCH is divided in five areas, i.e. (i) dietary carbohydrates, (ii) lignocellulosics, (iii) phytochemicals, (iv) proteins and (v) lipids, and has state-of-the-art infrastructure to facilitate the research, including ESI-iontrap MS, ESI-TOF-MS, MALDI-TOF-TOF-MS, GC-MS,(U) HPLC, CE, and preparative chromatography. FCH has access to excellent NMR facilities. FCH is a dynamic international team comprising around 15 staff members, 25 PhD students and post-docs, and 40 BSc and MSc thesis students annually.

More information on our team can be found at:


Equal opportunities employer
We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Food
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 577761


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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