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Testing a forgotten grain – how nutritious is Amaranth

The project aims to investigate the effect of variety and growing conditions on the nutritional profile and digestibility of amaranth grains.

Department: Animal Dairy & Food Chain Sciences

Supervised by: Myriam Grundy

The Placement Project

The student will join a research programme that is ongoing between the University of Reading and two Kenyan institutions (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology and Technical University of Mombasa). Amaranth grain can have excellent nutritional composition as it is rich in proteins and lipids. However, there is insufficient knowledge about how variety (genotype) and agronomy affect the nutritional value and digestibility of amaranth. During this project, the student will characterise (nutritional analysis and microscopy observations) amaranth grains from various origin. Grains with contrasting nutritional composition will then be processed to different extents (ground and/or cooked) and digested in vitro to investigate the bioaccessibility (release) of their nutrients (in particular lipids and proteins).

Tasks

Under the supervision of Dr Myriam Grundy, the student will analyse the nutritional composition of amaranth grains grown in different regions of Kenya. Grains with contrasting nutritional composition will then be digested using an in vitro digestion model. Labwork will be carried out within the School of Agriculture and at the Crops Research Unit (Sonning Farm). Depending on the student’s interest there is also the possibility to work on a small glasshouse experiment that will explore how drought affects Amaranth growth. Main tasks will include 1) analysis of the nutritional composition of amaranth grains 2) selection and processing (raw, ground and/or cooked) of grains 3) digestion of the selected grains.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The student will have an interest in agriculture and nutrition. The student needs to have experience and be capable in the laboratory (e.g. pipetting, using glassware, preparing solutions). Key attributes are ability to work independently and to manage own time.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

At the end of the placement the student will gain practical experience in nutritional composition analyses, microscopy and in vitro digestion. Work associated with the project involves crop science and experimentation with plants, so the student will also gain an understanding of plant physiology. In addition, the student will develop skills of team-work, independent learning and scientific writing. These transferable skills will increase the employability of the student.

Place of Work

School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading.

Hours of Work

9 am - 5 pm with an hour for lunch

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 01 July 2019 - Saturday 10 August 2019

How to Apply

*The deadline for applications to this project is Friday 26th April*. Students should submit their CV and Cover Letter directly to Dr Myriam Grundy (m.m.grundy@reading.ac.uk). Successful candidates will then be invited to interview.


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