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Food Science, Health and Sustainability: Yeast single cell protein as a sustainable source of non-meat alternative proteins.


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Saturday 1 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Dr CĂ©lia Ferreira
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Are you passionate by Food Science? The risk of food shortage posed by Global Environmental Change is one of the key research challenges in Food Science and Innovation nowadays. My lab research sits at the intersection of Food Science, Health and Sustainability. We are passionate to apply microbial proteins for food production as one of the promising solutions for the current high demand of non-animal origin proteins. <br /> <br /> Yeasts provide a rich source of non-meat protein source by a number of reasons. Yeasts as single cell proteins are rich in high quality (containing all exogenous amino acids) and highly digestible proteins and a good source of vitamins, in particular B12 vitamin. Yeasts are healthier than meat as it contains a much lower fat content, mostly polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs -EPA), no traces of antibiotics, of growth hormones or of pesticides and fertilizers. Yeast paste has a texture and Umami (savoury) flavour, which are key to obtain the juicy meat-like texture and flavour, reducing processing steps and additives. These are more sustainable and affordable since require small spaces to be cultivated, have low carbon footprint, besides of being able to grow on agro-food wastes. Lastly, yeast-based proteins have a higher consumer acceptability especially if compared with insect protein (in occidental countries) or cultured meat, are suitable for vegan and vegetarian and have the support of several religious authorities. <br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The aim of this PhD project is to identify yeasts to generate single cell protein at industrial scale and ultimately meat-analogue products. The work will be mostly developed at the School of Food Science and Nutrition (continuously ranked 1<sup>st</sup> School in Food Science in UK) but due to the strong interdisciplinary nature of the research diverse collaborations (and possible secondments) with UK and International research groups as well as with Food Industries are anticipated, providing the ideal environment to enhance the career perspectives and employability of the candidate. The student will be expected to attend and present work at national and international scientific meetings.&nbsp; In addition, training in generic transferable and professional skills is also available in the University of Leeds.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Project objectives:</span></span></strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Although, specific objectives have been set (below) there is plenty of scope for candidates to tailor the research work to their own particular interests. </span></span></p> <p style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">- Screen and characterize yeasts (already approved by EFSA as novel foods and food supplements) as to their potential as single cell protein for meat analogue products:&nbsp; biomass yields, differentiate growth (hyphal formation), water binding activity, protein content and digestibility, allergenicity are some of the aspects to be characterized. </span></span></p> <p style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">- Optimization of growth yields/protein content/amino acid profile will be studied when agro-food industry wastes are used as growth carbon sources, aiming to reduce wastes and promote circular economy.&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">- During the project, different yeast components can be exploit as to their potential as sustainable sources for isolation of: a) novel polysaccharides (cell wall and extracellular matrix) for food applications, and b) bioactive peptides with nutrition potential. </span></span></p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Formal applications should be made online through the University&#39;s website ( and attach the following documentation to support their application:</span></span></p> <ul> <li style="text-align:justify; margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">A full academic CV </span></span></li> <li style="text-align:justify; margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Degree certificate/s and transcript of marks</span></span></li> <li style="text-align:justify; margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Evidence that you meet the University&rsquo;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</span></span></li> </ul> <p style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Please provide the following information on your application to help us identify you are applying for this project: </span></span></p> <ul> <li style="text-align:justify; margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Full project title <strong>Food Science, Health and Sustainability:&nbsp; Yeast single cell protein as a sustainable source of meat analogue food products </strong></span></span></li> <li style="text-align:justify; margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Your proposed supervisor Dr C&eacute;lia Ferreira.</span></span></li> </ul> <div> <div class="msocomtxt" id="_com_1" language="JavaScript"> <p class="MsoCommentText"><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> </div> </div>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study in the School of Food Science &amp; Nutrition is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For queries regarding the project, please contact Dr. C&eacute;lia Ferreira</p> <p>Any enquiries about the application procedure can be sent to <a href=""></a>.&nbsp;</p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>