The Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences provides the agri-food and bioresources industries with highly trained graduates and innovative research solutions for exploiting existing and emerging opportunities for the agriculture sector. Our interdisciplinary teaching approach provides Canadian and International students with the advanced knowledge and understanding of agricultural outputs and by- and co-products (proteins, carbohydrates/fibre and lipids), processing, genetic engineering and microbial biotechnology that can be then tailored to the areas of food science and technology, biomaterials, biotechnology bio-energy and nutrigenomics.
Our researchers are at the forefront of food and bioproducts research in Canada, and are recognized internationally for their specialties in food for health, food chemistry, processing, microbial biotechnology, authenticity, nanotechnology, meat science, bio-energy and nutrigenomics.
With our faculty complement filling strategic target areas within the area of food and bioproducts, undergraduate and graduate students have access to one of the best interdisciplinary educational and research opportunities offered from a research-intensive university in Canada. Our department provides a research continuum by traditional agriculture sciences to value-added industrial technologies.
Our commitment to our undergraduate and graduate students is reflected by the diversity of our student enrolment, as we welcome young scientists from across Saskatchewan, Canada and from around the globe into our programs. Within this multicultural and interdisciplinary environment, students are given the skills and knowledge to become 'market-ready' upon graduation; immediately impacting their user community. Our faculty and staff are strongly committed to educating the next scientific leaders in the area of food and bioproducts.
We offer two bachelor degree programs: one is hosted in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources (BSA in Food Bioproduct Sciences) and the other is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences (B.Sc. in Food Science).
Saskatchewan is well known as the "bread basket of Canada", although "bread basket" today does not mean we only produce primary agricultural commodities. Advances in agro-biological science and biotechnology extend the scope of the agriculture to food and bioproducts. Historically, our department has two streams of research, food science and applied microbiology, both of which involve the application of science and technology in pre- and post-harvest agriculture and in adding "value" to our primary agriproducts. In recent years, the boundary between the two steams has become vague, which has pushed our research frontier beyond traditional food and microbial products. Our goal is to fully utilize renewable bioresources to produce healthy foods and environmentally friendly bioproducts to support a sustainable bioeconomy.
Our department has a wide breath of expertise in food and bioproduct sciences. Faculty interests range from functional genomics and systems biology to processing technologies and physicochemistry applied to create novel food and bioproducts.
Principal Investigator: Bob Tyler
This research program is directed toward value-added utilization of cereals, oilseeds and pulses (grain legumes) and their constituents, and involves extensive collaboration with the Department of Plant Sciences. Some of the recent studies include:
- wet-dehulling of flax
- extraction of bioactives from canola meal
- extrusion expansion of pea flour and air-classified pea starch
- extrusion texturization of air-classified pea protein
- incorporation of pulse flours and ingredients into pasta, noodles and bread
- fortification of baked goods and texture-modified foods with pea hull fibre
- evaluation of the functionality of refined pea starch and air-classified pea starch, and resistant starch in native and physically-modified field pea and wrinkled pea starches
- investigation of the impact of genetics and environment on the physico-chemical characteristics of starch in field pea and fababean
Patented technologies have been developed for preparation of cationic starch derivatives in an alcoholic medium, manufacture of a pasta-like product from field pea flour by high temperature extrusion, and fractionation and processing of oilseed meal.
Principal Investigator: Takuji Tanaka
This research program is directed towards enzyme utilization in the food and bioproduct processing. In the fermented foods, proteolysis contributes changes in characteristics of foods, such as flavour, texture, nutrient values. Moreover, recent research revealed that many resultant peptides of the proteolysis, also known as bioactive peptides, have biological activities in favour of human health. On top of it, final products of proteolysis, amino acids, often promote human health through allowing rapid assimilation. In this research, the enzymes involved in the proteolysis in fermented foods are investigated in order to produce novel food products.
Biofuel is a booming commodity among agroproducts. Both biofuels, bioethanol and biodiesel, share a major byproduct, glycerol, that has been used as a stabilizer in foods and cosmetics. The demands for glycerol, unfortunately, do not match the growth of biofuel productions. As a result, it is critical to find methods to efficiently use glycerol for new applications. This research investigates enzymatic methods to convert glycerol into platform chemicals that can be used to produce value-added products.
Principal Investigator: Darren Korber
- elucidating stress response and adaptive resistance mechanisms of biofilm forming pathogens,
- using of microorganisms to convert bioethanol byproducts (glycerol) to higher-value platform chemicals,
- encapsulation of probiotics for improved gastrointestinal health,
- study of microbially-mediated biogeochemical transformations and mobilization of metal species in uranium mine tailings,
- extending the shelf-life of value-added meat products,
- characterizing microbial communities found in environmental waters for determinants of antibiotic resistance,
- examining the impact of nanomaterials on aquatic microbial communities, and determining the potential for metal nanoparticles to be used as antimicrobial agents,
- study of potential for microbes to influence the integrity of deep geological repositories for used nuclear fuel.
Reserach in this area employs a range of technologies and approaches: digital microscopy and analytical imaging techniques, including confocal scanning laser, synchrotron soft-transmission x-ray, light, and atomic force microscopy; molecular approaches, such as site-directed mutagenesis, PCR and qPCR variations,NGS sequencing, DGGE, proteomics/2D-PAGE/DIGE analyses, mass spectrometry.
Principal Investigator: Vladimir Vujanovic
Research focuses on Microbial Metagenomics and Metaproteomics. Current research interests include:
- functional mycology and systematics
- microbial bioinoculants
- microbial endophytes,
- plant stress protecteurs
- plant growth promoters,
- biofertilizers and biocontrol agents against plant pests.
Principal Investigator: Nicholas Low
This research team has, and is currently developing, novel techniques to detect food adulteration. These developments have led to a set of innovative methods of verifying food authenticity that are based on the detection of trace oligosaccharides and elucidation of their mechanisms of formation (i.e. transglycosylation and reversion reactions). They are in current use by regulatory agencies in Canada (CFIA), the USA (FDA) and throughout the European Union, as well as by numerous food companies (e.g. Nestle, Tropicana).
This research group is also actively involved in the development of molecular tags (oligosaccharides/oligonucleotides) as internal markers for food traceability and security.
In addition, this research group is developing novel encapsulation technologies for the entrapment and targeted delivery of bioactive ingredients.
Principal Investigator: Supratim Ghosh
The focus of this research is to understand how the physiochemical functionality of molecules at the nano- and micro- scales can be controlled to improve macroscopic properties of food and its overall healthfulness.
One of the goals of this research theme is to understand the mechanisms of structure formation in food emulsions and nanoemulsions and how the overall structure might be modified through the interactions between nanodroplets, surfactants, fat crystals and other additives. The knowledge gained from this research is be used to develop multifunctional bio-based nano- and micro- structures to deliver active components in food without any loss in functionality during processing and digestion (e.g. prevention of lipid oxidation or protection against adverse environment of GI tract so that functionality can be delivered in the targeted organs). The effectiveness of the controlled release matrix to deliver and release an active ingredient to the right place at the right time in the human body (both in-vitro and in-vivo studies) are also determined.
Various other research topics include:
- controlling nanostructure and self-assembly at interfaces for the development of novel food matrices with improved rheology and stability
- development of pulse protein-stabilzied nanoemulsions
- stability of W/O emulsions and nanoemulsions
- pickering emulsions for stability and controlled release applications
Principal Investigator: Phyllis Shand
This research program emphasizes physicochemical, biochemical and functional aspects of muscle proteins. In particular, Shand’s research team has focused on the influence of antemortem factors on the conversion of muscle to meat, and then utilization of meat in further processing, including aspects of thermal gelation. This has resulted in ongoing studies of stress or diet on pork, beef and lamb meat quality and more recent work on heat and cold stress during transportation of chickens on resulting chicken meat quality. Her interest in thermal gelation has expanded to include work on non-meat ingredients and their interactions in meat systems, such as ingredients and processing to improve quality and safety of low-sodium meat products and assessments of the efficacy of pulses (pea, chickpea, lentil) and their fractions in meat processing. Another ongoing area of research of the "Meat Group" is to increase the utilization of under-valued meat cuts and by-products. Work in this area has included the effect of postmortem intervention strategies, including blade tenderization, marination strategies and heating regimes on tenderization of tougher cuts from beef and bison. Upcoming research will focus on adding value to mechanically recovered meat from poultry and pork.
Principal Investigator: Xiao Qiu
Currently Xiao Qiu’s research program focuses on the biosynthesis of:
- very long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for dietary supplementation
- unusual fatty acids for industrial uses
- biological waxes for cosmetic and industrial applications
- Other bioactives for functional food.
Principal Investigator: Michael Nickerson
Research work of this group focuses on the development of new and innovative uses of plant proteins for food, feed and biomaterial applications. With increased concerns over the safety of animal-derived products, growing dietary preferences and consumer demand for healthier foods; market trends are shifting towards the use of plant proteins as an alterative source.
Research activities are expected to significantly impact agriculture and agri-food sectors, particularly in the area of food, health and wellness, and security. Some of the recent research projects include:
- developing functional food ingredients/controlled delivery platforms for carrying bioactive compounds for food and feed, such as prebiotics, probiotic bacteria, heart healthy oils and concentrated phenolic extracts
- studying structure-function relationships of proteins and protein-polysaccharide mixtures, for enhanced use of plant proteins as food ingredients
- investigating protein-based emulsifiers and gelling agents
- development of protein-based edible packaging for bioactive delivery
- understanding the dough stickiness phenomenon in dough under a low sodium environment
- development of pulse and cereal based food aid-type products for enhanced food security
- assessing the anti-nutritional properties of pulses
Principal Investigator: Chris Eskiw
Research under this theme focuses on how nutrient availability and sensing impacts the aging process by altering genome function and organization. It has long been known that restricting nutrient/calorie intake promotes health and extends lifespan. However, the consequences of reduced nutrient uptake are not understood at the most basic level of our biology -- our genes. Understanding how our genes respond to nutrients is essential in order to design therapies/dietary strategies and to identify naturally occurring molecules found in foods to combat age-related disease and increase lifespan. The work in Dr. Eskiw’s laboratory aims to identify not only the genes involved in mediating health and longevity but also the mechanisms that drive this. Furthermore, the goal is to understand how genome folding influences gene expression leading to increased health and longevity.
Principal Investigator: Yongfeng Ai
The primary goal of our research program is to promote value-added utilization of carbohydrates in foods, feed and bioproducts.
Specific research areas include:
- Relationships between structure, functional properties and enzymatic hydrolysis of starch
- Chemical, physical and enzymatic modifications of starch and other carbohydrates
- Development of resistant starch and other dietary fibers for food applications
- Development of value-added products from pulses and cereal grains