PhD scholarship in Associative Interactions between Exopolysaccharides from Lactic Acid Bacteria and Milk Proteins at Technical University of Denmark

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Enzyme and Protein Chemistry (EPC), Department of Systems Biology would like to invite for applications for a 3-year PhD student position starting in June 2013 or later. The successful applicant will work in a new collaborative project concerning the impact of exopolysaccharide interactions with milk protein on the textural properties of yoghurt. The project partners are   DTU Systems Biology, DTU Nanotechnology, DTU Chemistry, Department of Food Science at University of Copenhagen, Industrial Microbiology and Food Technology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), and Chr. Hansen A/S. The Danish Council for Independent Research | Technical and Production Sciences financially supports the project.

Project Description
The overall aim of the project is to characterize the role of the structure of exopolysaccharides secreted by lactic acid bacteria during fermentation in the interaction with specific milk proteins and the contribution of these carbohydrate-protein interactions to the textural and sensory properties of yoghurt. In particular the so-called hetero exopolysaccharides (HePS) seem to play a critical role in yoghurt texture and HePS with known monosaccharide composition and sequence will be purified from available bacterial strains in collaboration with Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The binding affinity between the various HePS or oligosaccharide repeats derived from the HePS and purified milk proteins will be determined by using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). In collaboration with DTU Nanotechnology and DTU Chemistry rheological and structural properties will be studied of selected HePS protein systems. The validation of the HePS-protein interactions on texture will be performed using confocal laser scanning microscopy and analysis of macroscopic textural properties as well as by pilot plant yoghurt production in collaboration with University of Copenhagen and Chr. Hansen A/S.

Candidates must have a M.Sc. degree within a relevant field, such as chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology or biotechnology or equivalent academic qualifications and be able to demonstrate solid experimental experience in protein chemistry and carbohydrate chemistry.
Furthermore, preference will be given to candidates who can document that they are knowledgeable in some of the following specific areas: protein-carbohydrate interaction analysis using SPR and ITC, oligosaccharide-preparation and purification, gene cloning and heterologous protein production and purification, fermentation using lactic acid bacteria, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The diverse skill sets required for completion of the project calls for candidates with a mind-set for collaboration and a desire to master new scientific disciplines.
Lastly, a good command of English is essential.

Further information
Further information on this project can be obtained from Professor Birte Svensson, e-mail:, Professor Richard Ipsen, e-mail:, Professor Kristoffer Almdal, e-mail: or Associate Professor Maher Abou Hachem, e-mail:

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for Danish terms PhD students. The period of employment is 3 years.

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