Advanced Carbohydrate Technologies

Course content

Key topics covered:  functional food ingredients, nutraceuticals, excipients (medical applications), biocomposites, industrial production of fibres from plants, monoclonal antibody production; biosynthesis of plant carbohydrate, biofuel enzyme discovery, rational energy crop design, starch, pectin, plant cell wall, spectroscopic analysis.

Examples of techniques:  carbohydrate microarrays, high-throughput antibody screening; hydrocolloid rheology (structure function relationships); high-throughput enzyme screening; immuno-fluoresence microscopy; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, bioinformatics relating to the carbohydrate enzyme database (CAZY), viscometric measurements, molecular modeling.

Carbohydrates have a large impact on plant development and thereby on cereal based foods or food ingredients that constitutes the major part of the human diet. Carbohydrates are bioengineered to make biofuel and bioenergy more efficient. Further carbohydrates are functionalised in plants and with enzyme processing to generate new functions, health-associated ones, and intelligent and advanced biomaterials.

This course will provide a comprehensive understanding of plant carbohydrates and will use an integrated series of lectures and practical exercises to cover fundamental biology and applied themes. The key lectures will be provided by members the three departments involved, but an important feature of the course will be the involvement of invited external speakers. Students will also have opportunities to get hands-on practical experience with state –of-the-art techniques for glycan analysis including carbohydrate microarrays. The course will be spilt into three consecutive interrelated modules. Module 1 will deal mostly will polysaccharides as they occur in plants, especially important food crops and will cover biosynthesis, diversity, evolution and structure. Module 2 will concentrate on state of the art analytical techniques for polysaccharide analysis with a particular emphasis on relating structure to function and the effects of enzymatic and chemical modifications. Module 3 will focus on applications of plant polysaccharides. This will ex. include plant fibres and health, advanced functional food ingredients, nutraceuticals and therapeutics, novel bio-materials and the production of plant polysaccharides within a bio-refinery context.

Module 1: Carbohydrates in planta
• The biological sources of plant carbohydrates
• Plant cell walls
• Starch
• Carbohydrate biosynthesis
• Carbohydrate evolution and diversity

Module 2: Carbohydrate structure, analysis and functionality
• Relating carbohydrate structure and function
• Carbohydrate active enzymes
• Carbohydrate microarrays
• Glycan recognition, monoclonal antibodies and carbohydrate binding modules
• Carbohydrate molecular modelling
• Glycomics, data mining, multivariate data analysis
• Near infra red, infra red-, and Raman spectroscopy
• Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy

Module 3: Industrial production of plant carbohydrates and the impact on human health & nutrition
• Functional food ingredients introduction
• Pectins, carrageenans and other hydrocolloids
• Glucans and arabinoxylans
• Fibre function, resistant starch and health
• Pectin and cancer
• Prebiotics


MSc Programme in Biology-Biotechnology

Learning outcome

The primary outcomes will be a sound knowledge of the biology and utilization of plant carbohydrates. After completing the course, students should be able to:

• Describe the processes of carbohydrate biosynthesis, occurrence and diversity in the plant kingdom (including micro- and macro-algae).
• Demonstrate a practical knowledge of cutting-edge techniques for carbohydrate analysis, including the construction and use of carbohydrate microarrays for high throughput screening.
• Describe the activities and importance of industries based on plant carbohydrates.
• Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the use of plant carbohydrates as functional food ingredients, nutraceuticals, therapeutics and as novel bio materials.
• Describe the health effects of plant fibres.

• Apply their knowledge to critically assess scientific literature.
• Use selected techniques for carbohydrate analysis.
• Apply their knowledge to evaluate the outcome of carbohydrate analysis.
• Describe how fundamental carbohydrate biology is related to downstream industrial uses.

• Work independently and with scientific literature.
• Prepare and present oral and written work
• Design experiments related to carbohydrate biology and applications

Lectures, theoretical and practical exercises. Report on the laboratory work.

A mixture of original research papers, reviews articles and text book chapters. To be announced.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Description of Examination: 20 minute oral exam within the theoretical and practical aspects of the course, with 20 minutes preparation time.
Written aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Criteria for exam assessment

Focus on knowledge of the biology and utilization of plant polysaccharides and knowledge of the techniques used.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Practical exercises
  • 30
  • Theory exercises
  • 4
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Preparation
  • 141
  • English
  • 206