Martí-Franquès COFUND Fellowship Programme


Login to the application




Supervisor name and surname:

Cristina Torres Fuentes

Supervisor email:

Supervisor short biography

PhD programme:

Nutrition and Metabolism

Title of the research project:

Interaction between protein hydrolysates and gut microbiota: prebiotic potential and promotion of postbiotics production with antihypertensive effects

Description of the research project:

Gut microbiota is emerging as a key player in the interaction between diet and health and it is a clear target in the development of new therapeutics against several diseases. Recently it has been demonstrated that hypertension, which has become the most critical and expensive public health problem, is significantly influenced by gut microbiota. Thus, fecal transplantation from hypertensive patients to germ-free mice led to elevated blood pressure, demonstrating a direct influence of gut microbiota. Moreover, hypertension has been linked to decreased beneficial bacteria. Due to its therapeutic potential, modulation of gut microbiota has received considerable interest. Proteins are an important macronutrient that may have a major contribution on shaping the gut bacteria, serving as a source of nitrogen and being essential to produce postbiotics, which are beneficial microbial metabolites. There is growing recognition that gut microbiota can be modulated by the dietary proteins which in turn impact health. Reciprocally, gut microbiota affects protein metabolism releasing peptides. However, this interaction has not been deeply investigated yet.
Protein hydrolysates are of high interest as they are a great source of bioactive peptides, which may exert several beneficial effects, including antihypertensive. It has recently been shown that hydrolysates may impact gut microbiota, but their interaction is still poorly understood. It is wort mentioning that agri-food industries byproducts are protein-rich sources, and their reuse can represent a renewable source for new bioactive protein hydrolysates, which will benefit the entire food system contributing to the circular economy.
Taking all together, the hypothesis of this project is that specific protein hydrolysates from agri-food industry byproducts may modulate the gut microbiota and promote the production of postbiotic metabolites, including antihypertensive peptides. The aim is to study the interaction between hydrolysates and gut microbiota by investigating their prebiotic potential and capability to promote postbiotics production with antihypertensive effects in a hypertensive rat model. The main tasks to be developed during this projects are: (1) to obtain protein hydrolysates from agri-food industry byproducts, (2) to ferment them with feces from pre-hypertensive donors and selection according to their potential to affect microbiota and produce antihypertensive postbiotics (3) to validate antihypertensive activity in hypertensive rats (SHR), (4) to investigate long-term effects of the most active hydrolysate in SHR and (5) to assess hydrolysate effects in a human gut microbiota context after simulation of gastrointestinal digestion. This will provide novel insights into the interaction between microbial activity and proteins.
To carried out this project, the Nutrigenomic Research Group (URV, Tarragona, Spain) is looking for a highly motivated candidate who will join a multidisciplinary team which includes experts in gut microbiota, bioactive protein hydrolysates, metagenomic and metabolomic techniques.

Highly desirable (not mandatory) attributes of the ideal candidate

* Demonstrated previous experience in one or more of the following topics: molecular biology techniques, animal experiments
* Hold a Master degree, or equivalent, in: Biology, Biotechnology and/or Biochemistry sciences
* Language skills: fluent English and/or Spanish
* Specific Software skills: knowledge of R or similar
* Personality traits: collaboration and team worker skills, motivated and responsible
Ethics: This project involves ethical aspects

Workplace Location: Campus Sescelades, Tarragona

Gross anual salary:

27103.20 €


Full time

Working hours:

37.5 hours a week

Earliest expected start date:

10 May 2022

European union This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 945413