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Assessing the effects of plant seed extracts on Caco2 and IEC-6 cell cultures

chia seeds

Investigate the nutritional value of a range of plant seeds using cell culture models

Interest in highly nutritious plant seeds is increasing as we are becoming more aware of the need to eat a balanced and varied diet. We already consume a wide variety of seeds in our food but some of these have been called “superfoods”, including flax, quinoa, hemp and chia. This is based on their desirable lipid contents (omega 3 vs omega 6 amounts and ratios), and protein profiles because they contain all the essential amino acids or superior dietary fibre content.

But how many of these properties have been thoroughly tested and verified, for example using bioavailability assays, and what effects do the seeds have on cells that are exposed to them? Does this vary according to whether the seeds are whole or ground (as we would eat them)?

We would like to use a cell culture model to test the bioavailability of compounds from a range of seeds, including those which have “ideal” omega fatty acid profiles. We would also like to initiate an analysis of the changes occurring in cells which have been exposed to these seed extracts; we can measure cell proliferation and apoptosis using the xcelligence system and oxidative stress and inflammatory reactions using appropriate biomarkers.

You will develop skills in:

  • Working with human cell cultures
  • Bioavailability assays
  • Cell proliferation and apoptosis assays
  • Oxidative and inflammatory stress assessment
  • RNA extraction and transcriptomic analyses

Key References:

Romier-Crouzet, B., Van De Walle, J., During, A., Joly, A., Rousseau, C., Henry, O., Larondelle, Y. and Schneider, Y.J., 2009. Inhibition of inflammatory mediators by polyphenolic plant extracts in human intestinal Caco-2 cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 47(6), pp.1221-1230.

Dai, J. and Mumper, R.J., 2010. Plant phenolics: extraction, analysis and their antioxidant and anticancer properties. Molecules, 15(10), pp.7313-7352.

Professor Rachel Burton


Professor Rachel Burton

Co supervisorsAssociate Professor Sue Bastian  |  Dr Tina Bianco-Miotto

Research area: Nutrition Science

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Food and Nutrition Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Food and Nutrition Science, Honours projects - Tina Bianco-Miotto, Honours projects - Rachel Burton, Honours projects - Sue Bastian, Honours projects - Plant science

STEM Careers Night: On-campus and online

Whether you're still at high school or planning to join us mid-year, taking a break from study or rethinking your career path, come chat with us at our STEM Careers Night.

You and your parents are invited to join us on campus on Tuesday 18 May 2021 to see what’s available in the world of STEM.

STEM Careers Night