The combination of diet (particularly plant cell walls) and microbial activity in the gut, have been implicated in the prevention of several chronic diseases, usually associated with the Western world.  These diseases include cardio-vascular disease, Type II diabetes, obesity, and colo-rectal cancer amongst others. As part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Cell Walls project, we have been able to focus on chemically defined “dietary fibres”, a fairly general nutritional term to essentially describe plant cell wall-based foods, though also includes various fermentable oligosaccharides and resistant starch.  In this presentation, an attempt will be made to examine the relationship between specific grain, fruit and vegetable plant cell walls and gut microbiology, using both in vitro and in vivo techniques. 

Dr Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams obtained her PhD in Physiology from the University of Queensland. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences (CNAFS).

Her main interest is fermentation in the gut. Previously, the main focus was on aspects of animal nutrition (particularly the efficiency of feed utilization, both in pigs and ruminants).  However, since 1997 this focus has shifted to fermentation in the monogastric gastro-intestinal tract and its relation to health, both of the gut itself, but also how fermentation affects mammalian physiology, and gut microbial communities. Since 1997, more than ~40 refereed articles and book chapters have been published on this subject.

She joined CNAFS in May 2006 from Wageningen University, The Netherlands, where she spent ~ eight  years working on the effect of fermentable carbohydrates in the porcine gastro-intestinal tract. In addition, she has also spent considerable time on the use of in vitro techniques to characterize carbohydrates before their inclusion in the diet, and is an internationally recognised expert on the use of cumulative gas production as an in vitro measure of fermentation kinetics. Currently, she is involved in two major projects, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Cell Walls, combining gut fermentation and plant cell wall chemistry; and the Pork CRC investigating the effect of plant cell walls on dietary intake, and body weight gain.

About Science Seminars

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation hosts science seminars across the disciplines of animal, horticulture, crop, food and nutritional sciences.

With a range of speakers from Australia and abroad, the series explores how high-impact science will significantly improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the tropical and sub-tropical food, fibre and agribusiness sectors.

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The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.


Large Seminar Room (3.142), Level 3 Qld Bioscience Precinct Building 80, St Lucia