Category Archives: Science news
Starch is a versatile product. In addition to being a major source of carbohydrates in people’s diets it has well over 700 non-food derived applications, such as in bulking agents, paper and adhesive.
Many biological and industrial processes, such as mammal digestion, plant metabolism and biofuel production, rely on the hydrolysis of native starch by amylolytic enzymes. These enzymes, represented mostly by α-amylases, break down the starch macromolecules to small carbohydrates and finally simple glucose molecules.
The Cereal Quality Group of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, based in Canberra, together with INRA Unité de Recherches Biopolymères, Interactions et Assemblages in Nantes, have developed a strong common interest in studying the impact of α-amylase in cereal quality and food production.
One such research interest is the beneficial effects α-amylase on bread quality and malting. It is thought that the addition of α-amylase results in the production of fermentable sugar, via starch hydrolysis, thereby fuelling fermentation. In baking, it contributes to shorter fermentation and increases loaf volume.
At the laboratory scale, it has been shown that starch digestion is governed by (1) the type of enzyme digesting the starch. (Each enzyme has a proper mode of action depending on the specific substrate) and (2) the structure and morphology of the starch granule. However, the influence of starch structure on amylolysis in industrial processes remains unclear.
In collaboration with Synchrotron SOLEIL (Paris), researchers have used the unique high-resolution UV imaging setup of the DISCO beamline to localize at high resolution, α-amylase action on starch without staining or use of a fluorescent probe. Like a precise amylase GPS, this has enabled researchers to follow, live and in 3D, the mode of action of a-amylase and the associated morphological changes of starch granules at different stages of their hydrolysis.
As part of the CSIRO/INRA linkage, researchers are now developing a model using a large wheat populations that will predict the degradability of wheat starches by industry grade baking improver α-amylases. This model would make possible to predict starch degradability by commercial α-amylases based on genetic information or structural analysis. It would also provide valuable information on new ways to tailor starch for industrial purposes, for both baking and malting as well as green chemistry and biofuel production.
Kamal KANSOU, Materials Processing and Behavior team, Bioplymeres Interactions Assemblages
Dr Jean-Philippe Ral, Cereal Quality, Crop improvement for novel products
The Paris-Saclay University Newsletter is available on this link
Cette conférence internationale a regroupé environ 90 physiciens spécialistes des réactions nucléaires dites de “basse énergie”. La France était présente, avec 8 représentants, venus de laboratoires Français ou travaillant hors de France. L’étude de réactions permettant de former de nouveaux éléments dits super lourds était au cœur de cette conférence. Il s’agit en effet d’un sujet d’actualité, avec l’annonce en 2016 de la confirmation de 4 nouveaux éléments: le Nihonium Nh, le Moscovium Mc, le Tennessine Ts et l’Oganesson Og avec respectivement 113, 115, 117 et 118 protons. De nouveaux accélérateurs tels que SPIRAL2 à Caen sont en cours de construction pour étudier les isotopes de ces nouveaux éléments, voire, pour former de nouveaux noyaux. Parmi les chercheurs français qui ont pu venir grâce à une subvention de l’ambassade de France en Australie, Guillaume Fruet, doctorant de l’Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien de Strasbourg, a obtenu le prix de la meilleure présentation orale de jeunes chercheurs lors de la conférence.
Dr Anne Rios on creating one of the world’s most innovative 3D imaging techniques to detect breast cancer
Dr Anne Rios, researcher in breast cancer at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne, was awarded the Neil Lawrence prize at the 2016 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards for her project entitled ‘A journey into the unexpected: A 3D view of breast cancer’.
She has developed a new 3D imaging technique that allows scientists to visualise entire breast tissues down to a single-cell level. She is the only researcher in Australia – and one of the few in the world – to do this.
With this technology, she gets an unprecedented view of this organ. It has already led to surprising insights into the normal development of the mammary gland, but it can also be used to screen, in close detail, large areas of breast tissue to detect any abnormal cell behaviour that could lead to breast cancer.
In April 2017, a series of high altitude balloons will be launched by the engineers of the CNES (National Center for Space Studies) from the launch base managed by the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, in Alice Springs. These balloons should enable researchers to measure the polarized emission of interstellar dust, and to build a precise map of the polarized cosmic radiation from the southern hemisphere. Follow the preparation of the mission on this link!