Project No. 2473
Dr Jenny Tullet – University of Kent
Dr Marina Ezcurra – University of Kent
Mr Michael Dallaway – Rent a Cherry Tree (CASE Partner)
TURNING AGRICULTURAL CHERRY WASTE INTO FOODS WITH HEALTH BENEFITS
Kent produces 4000 tonnes of cherries per year but 60% of these cannot be sold to supermarkets due to their appearance and are sent to landfill. Our laboratory is working with Rent a Cherry Tree, a business that makes a tasty and nutritious juice from these waste cherries, which we have found is exceptionally rich in natural chemicals called anthocyanins.
Cherry anthocyanins are important bioactive molecules and have been linked to reduced rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and neurodegeneration. They also act as prebiotics and promote beneficial gut microbe growth. They are used globally for the treatment of these diseases. Here, we will test whether Kent anthocyanins are just as helpful, and understand their potential health impact at a molecular and physiological level. This knowledge will be used to improve and target marketing, scale up the business, develop new products and define a unique market niche of ‘upcycled’ health foods.
We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to work in our vibrant and friendly laboratory at Kent. You will learn about sustainability and a wide variety of health processes whilst employing a variety of genetic, microbiology, biochemical and molecular techniques. For example you will quantify anthocyanins in the sustainably made juice and pomace and determine their bioactivity/prebiotic properties using ethical and sustainable approaches i.e. testing their impact on prebiotic bacterial growth and testing their health and lifespan affects in C. elegans. This is a highly impactful project with real-world and immediate applications. Your analysis will be used to increase productivity and sustainability, reduce waste, grow the bioeconomy and promote health.