Research project
30 | monthsCHARACTER_BIO

Comprehensive characterization of bioactive compounds and/or macromolecules from food by-products and wastes

Related toSpoke 02

Principal investigators
Sabrina Dallavalle,Maria Antonietta Panaro,Anna Valenti ,Pasquale Ferranti,Andrea Bassani,Arianna Rossetti

Other partecipantsA. Cardinali, V. D’Amelia, F. Meneguzzo, G. Di Prisco, E. Noris
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Task involved

Task 2.1.1.

Novel mild and downstream technologies for green extraction of bioactive compounds (e.g., controlled hydrodynamic cavitation, deep eutectic solvents, microwave- ultrasound, biodegradable solvent-assisted extraction, pulsed electric field, plasma, high pressure, CO2-SFE, auto- hydrolysis process, membrane technologies) from food by- products/waste and their biochemical, microbiological, structural and functional characterization in terms of composition to define the optimal valorisation strategy.

Project deliverables


Report on the chemical composition and stability of recovered extracts (M18)


Database containing agri-food by- products/waste data (M30)

Interaction with other spokes

State of the art

By-products and wastes are rich in bioactive compounds and macromolecules which, once extracted and evaluated for safety, can be utilized to formulate novel products. However, researchers and enterprises approaching to valorization of those biomasses, need first to characterize them, due to the scarcity of data about chemical composition of by-products and wastes. Nevertheless, characterization of those biomasses is sometimes very complicated and provides only a hazy overview of their huge potential. On the contrary, characterization of matrices derived from by-products and wastes subjected to different extraction techniques appears relatively easier. It also allows acquiring knowledge about extracts that may become the starting blocks or additional ingredients of novel products, such as functional foods.

The current sub-task aims to obtain a comprehensive characterization of the matrices resulting from extraction of biomasses investigated in the previous sub-task of T2.1.1. This will allow for ascertaining not only the potential health benefits of the extracts, but also the eventual presence of allergens, anti-nutritional factors, and toxins that would make the novel products, developed during implementation of T2.1.3, not safe for all the consumers. 

Operation plan

The extracts provided by T2.1.1.a will be subjected to the following characterizations: 
1) macro- and micro-nutrients, through reference methods, electrophoresis (e.g., SDS-PAGE), chromatography (LC-MS, GC-MS, MALDI-TOF-MS, HPLC-DAD-Ms/MS, nano-LC-ESI MS), and spectroscopy (NMR, Electronic Paramagnetic Resonance, cyclic voltammetry and/or constant potential amperometry), including solid state-spectroscopic techniques for lignin (CNR, UNINA, UNIMI, POLIMI, UNICAT);
2) safety, through quantification of chemical (e.g., allergens, anti-nutritional factors) and biological (e.g., undesired microorganisms and/or their toxins) hazards, and toxicity (using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as model system) (CNR, UNIBA); 
3) functionality: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (in vitro assays and in vivo tests on C. elegans), antidiabetic (inhibition of α-glucosidase and α-amylase), anti-obesity, heavy metals-chelating, anticancer, antiviral activities, effect on cell viability and on cell death, protection of cells from oxidative agents and radiations (CNR, UNIBA); 
4) bio-accessibility and bioavailability, through simulated digestion (CNR, UNIBA); 
5) stability (for lipids, phenolics, pigments, and polymers) (CNR). 
Furthermore, in cooperation with T2.1.1.a, the yield of bioactive compounds and/or macromolecules obtained through different extraction techniques will be evaluated.

Expected results

1. Assessment of safety, functionality, bioavailability, and stability of all the extracts obtained during implementation of T2.1.1.a; this will lead to select at least one extract from by-products and wastes from each agrifood and marine chain.

2. Creation of a comprehensive database reporting the chemical composition, nutritional value, safety features, functionality, bio-accessibility, bioavailability, and stability of the extracts from by-products and wastes.

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