Elucidation of structure-function relationships in milk protein-stabilized foams

January 11, 2018

In foods, aerated products play an integral role. Usually, proteins determine the formation and early stabilisation of such products. Thus, for attaining specific product attributes regarding texture and sensory perception, an in-depth insight into proteins surface and foaming properties is crucial.

Until now, there has been limited research on the overall correlation between bulk, interfacial and foaming behavior of proteins. The novelty of my PhD research is that it does research all these factors simultaneously by taking a systematic and comprehensive multiscale approach to studying the complex system of milk.

My work comprised the investigation of the bulk, interfacial and foaming properties of the main milk protein fractions (i.e., casein micelles, β-Lg and α-La), which were analyzed individually as well as in defined mixtures in addition to complete skim milk. A targeted modulation of protein structural attributes and protein interaction behavior was achieved by varying protein concentration and environmental conditions (i.e., pH, temperature and ionic milieu). This allowed for the specification of universal factors being crucial in terms of interfacial covering and foaming.

The result of my work is a step forward in understanding the mechanisms of interfacial coverage and stabilization of foams by proteins. Structure-function relationships have been derived, which enable a more targeted process and product development. Besides my studies on different milk proteins in their native state, I have also worked on particulated proteins that act like “Pickering” particles at the air/water interface. These have been shown to stabilize foams extremely well, which is a new insight and might also be relevant for the stabilization of emulsions.

This research was conducted at the University of Munich. The full research dissertation can be viewed online here. If you would like more information or would like to discuss this research further please contact Jannika Dombrowski

Each year EFFoST and Cargill present the student of the year award to six students and also give them the opportunity to show case their research. In this article Jannika Dombrowski who won the 1st prize for the PhD student of the year award discusses her research. Currently Jannika is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Technical University Munich.

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