Destiny and valorization of agricultural products

The goal of the axis 4 is to isolate, modify and characterize novel compounds from a variety of bio- agro- resources. Classical biological sources (crops, cattle, trees, …) as well as more original ones (field border flowering strips and gut microbiota) of raw materiels ( i.e. starch, lignin, cellulose, milk and products derived from them) will be investigated. These agricultural products will be extracted and modified by cracking, enzymatic reactions and/or fermentation using optimized processes of green chemistry and/or inspired from nature (biomimetism). Isolated compounds and fractions will be characterized for their composition and structure. Finally, the biosourced compounds will be evaluated for their effect on human or animal health as well as for their techno-functional properties in order to evaluate their potential on the market. A study of the structure-function relationships at a molecular level will be performed in order to obtain products with optimized activities. Results will permit to improve the capacity of biological sources to produce the resource (selection, breeding, improvement, …).

Project 4A

KrystianLignocellulosic material from wood as source of food or non-food compounds

PhD student: Krystian MIAZEK (
Coordinator: Dorothée GOFFIN

This PhD project aims to develop extraction and cracking process of hemicelluloses and lignins of both broad-leaved tree and resinous, to subsequently characterize them chemically and structurally. One of the originality of this work, is to consider those compounds as the main added value products rather than side products of the cellulose extraction process. On the other hand, cellulose can be extracted through well-known processes but modified with original treatments in order to produce novel compounds such as cellulooligosaccharides.

Consequently, lignocellulosic material should be extracted avoiding degradation as much as possible using less drastic process. Moreover, in the context of the AgricultureIsLife project, processes should be especially selected to be sustainable and to enforce the principle of green chemistry. Such pretreatment could be enzymatic degradation, steam explosion or micro-wave. Another originality of this project is the use and the set-up of high-performance characterization tools. Read more…

Project 4B

amanField border flowering strips as a source for food or non-food compounds

PhD student: Aman PAUL (
Coordinators: Sabine DANTHINE & Michel FREDERICH


The goal of the project is to isolate, characterize and modify novel compounds of agricultural origin, and more precisely from original resources, such as field border flowering strips and insects. The present multi-disciplinary project aims to highlight some possible ways of valorization of the plants used in the wildflower strips as well as the insects present in those strips. The research hypothesis sustaining this project is that several flowering plant species can be considered as potential interesting sources of nutrients (oils or fats) and/or bio-active molecules for food or non-food uses. Moreover, the flowering herbaceous strips alongside crop fields also harbor a very large amount of insects, including edible insects such as grasshopper and cricket. Considering both plant and insect diversity of the surrounding managed areas, a screening of several food and non-food molecules will be performed to select most interesting nutrients but also pharmaceutical or healthy materials in order to optimize plant and insect diversity regarding their further ways of valorization.

Different questions will be assessed:

  • Are some recommended plant species for wildflowers strips appropriate as new oil source?
  • Do they content interesting micronutrients?
  • Which edible insects are present in those strips?
  • Is it possible to modulate the (lipid) composition of edible insects by modifying their diet?

Read more…

Project 4C

malikThe role of biosourced compounds in human health

PhD student: Malik HAMAIDIA (
Coordinator: Luc WILLEMS

The goal of this PhD project is to assess the activity of biosourced compounds obtained by extraction, cracking or fermentation of agricultural products (i.e. cellulose, lignin, insects, and starch). Compounds/extracts are readily available from previous projects (SYNBIOFOR) and will be obtained by the different collaborating partners of AgricultureIsLife. Focus will be given on the effect of the compounds on human health and more particularly on the immune response. Preliminary data indicates that selected fractions containing glycans stimulate inflammation without initiating an anti-inflammatory feedback loop. Notwithstanding, inhibition of immune response by anti-inflammatory cytokines is a major cause of cancer therapy failure in human. The research hypothesis sustaining this project is that bio-sourced compounds are able to modulate host immune response and improve treatment outcome. The project first aims at evaluating this hypothesis in an invariably fatal cancer with increasing incidence, malignant mesothelioma. Expertise and platforms will also be made available to other partners of AgricultureIsLife in order to evaluate the effect of a series of biosourced compounds on normal and pathological human physiology. Read more…

Project 4D

LebecqueStudies of the mechanisms involved in the technological and biological properties of molecules issued from biomass

PhD student: Simon LEBECQUE
Coordinators: Edwin DE PAUW and Magali DELEU

The goal of the project is to provide a molecular description of the mechanisms, particularly those involving colloidal systems and biointerfaces, underlying the biological and techno-functional properties of bioproducts issued from bio-agro-resources. The relationships between the structure/composition and the physico-chemical properties of the bio-based products in correlation with their biological and techno-functional activities will be determined. This will allow the identification of the chemical features essential for a defined activity and will allow to orient the extraction/purification/transformation processes in order to obtain molecules with optimized activity. Read more…