Protein colloidal structures for food applications

Protein structures play a key part in food structure, and recently there has been significant interest in preprocessing protein ingredients into nano- and microparticles to be used as structuring elements in foods. At the occasion of the public defense of the PhD of Wahyu Wijaya, entitled ‘Novel functional colloids from electrostatic interactions of proteins and polysaccharides’ (February 21, from 10h00 -12h00), a ‘Meet the PhD jury experts’ seminar is organized to illustrate some examples of recent research in this area.


  • 14h00 – 14h45: Protein particles for food structuring (Prof. Renko de Vries, Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands)

This presentation will discuss a number of examples of protein particles and their specific properties with respect to food structuring from research within the WUR Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter research group. A first example concerns high protein liquid formulations (sports drinks, medical nutrition, plant-based dairy replacements, etc). Rather than stabilizing the protein ingredients at the molecular scale, it will be shown that, for whey proteins, stabilization at the colloidal scale can lead to very stable liquid formulations at very high protein content. Next, it is discussed how enzymes can be used to impart novel properties to protein structures not easily obtained otherwise. By oxidatively cross-linking the tyrosines of apo-(alpha)-lactalbumin, very hydrophilic (alpha)-lactalbumin nanogels can be obtained. At high concentrations these form transparent, (reversibly) shear-thinning gels with very high heat stability, properties not typically associated with whey proteins. Finally, more recent projects that mostly focus on the use of plant proteins will be discussed.

  • 14h45 – 15h30: Protein aggregation for food formulations: the particular cases of the influence of electric fields and the formation of protein-based nanohydrogels (Prof. Antonio Vicente, Department of Biological Engineering, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal)
  • 15h30 – 16h00: Improved emulsifying and heat stabilizing effects of whey protein isolate – pectin dry heat conjugates (Prof. Paul Van der Meeren, Particle & Interfacial Technology Group, Ghent University, Belgium)
  • Happy hour: informal contact with Prof. Antonio Vicente and Prof. Renko De Vries (Academic Club, (A1.103), Coupure Links 653, Gent).

This session is mainly focused towards PhD students to discuss specific problems on a 1-1 basis or in a small group.

Practical information

  • Date and time: 21/02/2019 from 14h00 until 17h00
  • Location: Vergaderzaal A0.1 'Academieraadzaal', Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent
  • Participation is free of charge. For logistic reasons, please confirm your presence via e-mail to