Populations in affluent societies are battling issues of rising obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colo-rectal cancer.

Many struggle with consuming diets containing sufficient amounts of dietary fibre originating from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, despite numerous epidemiological studies showing dietary fibre to be essential for overall human health. Dietary fibre, mostly comprising of polysaccharides able to withstand mammalian digestive enzyme hydrolysis in the small intestine, enters the large intestine where fermentation by the resident microbiota proceeds.

This presentation will focus on how the large intestinal microbiota respond to a selection of dietary fibre of various botanical sources. Differences in physico-chemical characteristics between “purified” and “whole” food components in promoting microbial diversity will be discussed. Lastly, insights into developing a mechanistic understanding of “who eats what” during dietary fibre fermentability will be shared.

Dr Deirdre Mikkelsen

Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, QAAFI, The University of Queensland

Dr Deirdre Mikkelsen is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, QAAFI, UQ. Her current topics of research include : i) investigating the fermentability of cell wall components as potential prebiotics; ii) developing molecular microbiology techniques to investigate gut microbe-dietary fibre interactions; and iii) investigating the breakdown of model plant cell wall components using molecular microbiology techniques and stable isotope tools.

Deirdre is co-author of over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and two book chapters. She received her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Queensland in 2005, then worked at the Advanced Water Management Centre (UQ), until moving to the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences in 2006. As a member of the Australian Society for Microbiology, Deirdre has been the Treasurer for the Queensland branch since 2009.

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.


Level 3, Queensland Bioscience Precinct building 80, UQ St Lucia campus
3.142 Large seminar room