Pre-doctoral position: Production and functionalization of xylo-oligosaccharides into biologicall...

June 29 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

VITO is a leading European independent research and technology organisation in the areas of cleantech and sustainable development, elaborating solutions for the large societal challenges of today.

A team of approximately 700 enthusiastic employees works on innovative research programmes within our 5 themes Energy, Chemistry, Materials, Landuse and Health. By doing this, they are contributing to the achievement of sustainable technological solutions in projects for clients (industry and governments).

If you would like to join and strengthen our VITO team as a researcher please consult our PhD/ Postdoc position currently available.

Currently, research on converting agricultural byproducts and forestry resources into value added products is actively undertaken to produce different economically important biomolecules like xylooligosaccharides (XOS). These pentose based oligomeric carbohydrates are valuable food sweeteners or have prebiotic, non-carcinogenic and antifreezing activities. They could thus be incorporated as additive in beverages and fermented dairy but also in feed mixtures for animals. In the evaluation of the environmental impact of processing xylans, enzyme fragmentation by xylanase is favorable compared to chemical agents due to the possibility to control the catalysis, the limited formation of side products and the avoidance of using harsh chemicals in line with a green chemistry.

In this PhD, the research challenge is to selectively produce XOS from xylans by studying enzymatic conversion into XOS with a certain, tailored degree of polymerisation. After optimizing the reaction conditions at batch level, production of tailored XOS by using new bioreactor concepts with enhanced productivity and stability will be investigated. Therefore, conversion by the appropriate enzyme will be combined with separation by filtration membranes. In first instance, these two steps will be performed separately while the final aim is to obtain a continuous enzyme membrane reactor in which these two steps are combined at laboratory level. Different crucial process parameters such as substrate conversion, product yield, productivity and enzyme inhibition will be studied and optimized. In a final part of the PhD, the obtained XOS will be derivatized to broaden the field of application of these (derivatized) XOS.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess