20. PhD Thesis - Nurhazwani Salleh Jun23.pdf (8.99 MB)

Characterisation and protein complexation of an anthocyanin-bound pectin extracted from New Zealand blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum): a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Food Technology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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posted on 2023-08-01, 01:48 authored by Nurhazwani Salleh, Mike WeeksMike Weeks

The main objective of this thesis was to investigate the cause of physical instability in blackcurrant juice-milk system. Poor phase stability in fruit juice-milk beverages is a major challenge for the clean-label beverage industry as milk protein can interact with fruit components, like polysaccharides and polyphenols, generating unwanted characteristics such as coagulation of milk proteins and phase separation. Hence, the principal step to understand the causes of poor phase stability was to identify and study the key interactive components of the juice, which was extracted from the New Zealand blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum), and then investigate their interactions with milk proteins.

The key components of the blackcurrant juice were first isolated using mild extraction procedures, via ethanol precipitation and dialysis, and were identified as a complex fraction particularly rich in pectin and anthocyanins (Chapter 4). Proximate analysis revealed that the fraction contained carbohydrate (78% w/w), uronic acid (21% w/w), protein (4.8% w/w), anthocyanin (3.9% w/w) and calcium (2.2% w/w). The pectin-rich fraction had a net negative surface charge of -23.1 mV (at pH 4.8), a pKₐ value of 1.7 and a relatively high degree of esterification (65.2%). Constituent sugar analysis showed that the fraction was mostly made of galacturonic acid, rhamnose, arabinose and galactose, and NMR spectroscopic analysis revealed that it was rich in rhamnogalacturonans with arabinogalactan side chains. This pectic fraction was unique as it was highly pigmented, with cyanidin 3-O-rutinoside as its major anthocyanin. Liquid chromatography revealed that the anthocyanins were tightly bound to the fraction as methanol used in the technique failed to separate them. Results from size-exclusion chromatography coupled with multi-angle laser light scattering showed that the blackcurrant juice contained two major pectic fractions—≈283 kDa present at 14.6% w/w and ≈97 kDa at 85.5% w/w—with the latter producing higher UV₂₈₀ ₙₘ signal, signifying that proteins and/or polyphenols were present mainly in the second fraction.

Association of anthocyanins to biopolymers like pectin and protein can occur via multiple interactive forces (electrostatic, hydrophobic and hydrogen bonding forces), and pH is known to play a significant role as it can affect the associative mechanisms of anthocyanins by changing their molecular configuration and ability to electrostatically interact. An attempt to dissociate blackcurrant anthocyanins from the blackcurrant biopolymers was carried out by disrupting electrostatic interactions and changing the planarity of anthocyanins via pH adjustments and ultra-filtration (Chapter 5). Lowering the juice pH to 2 did not result in anthocyanins dissociation, likely because anthocyanins were bound to the biopolymers by other interactive forces apart from the electrostatic bonds. Increasing the juice pH to 4.5 might have dissociated some anthocyanins from the biopolymers, but this was not reflected in the analysis of anthocyanins, probably because the freed anthocyanins had degraded before the analysis was carried out. Overall, size segregation of the juice components via ultra-filtration was relatively effective. Regardless of the pH, majority of the anthocyanins were still tightly associated with the large molecular weight biopolymers, confirming the involvement of multiple interactive forces.

In order to uncover the cause of phase instability in blackcurrant juice-milk system, a complexation study between the isolated pectin-rich fraction and whey proteins was conducted (Chapter 6). The impact of bound anthocyanins on pectin-protein interactions was studied by exploring the effects of pH (pH 3.5 and pH 4.5), heating (85 °C, 15 min) and heating sequence (mixed-heated or heated-mixed). The pH was found to influence the colour, turbidity, particle size and surface charge of the mixtures, but its impact was most drastic when heating was introduced. Heating increased the amount of blackcurrant pectin within the complexes—especially at pH 3.5, where 88% w/w of the initial pectin was found in the sedimented (insoluble) fraction. Based on physical stability measurements, the mixed-heated system at pH 4.5 displayed better stability than at pH 3.5. A noteworthy finding was that heating sequence was found to be effective in preventing the destabilisation of the systems. Mixing of components before heating produced a more stable system with small complexes (<300 nm) and relatively low polydispersity. However, heating whey proteins before mixing with blackcurrant pectin prompted protein aggregation, producing large complexes (>400 nm) that worsened the destabilisation.

The influence of bound anthocyanins on pectin-protein complexation was further studied by comparing two types of pectin-protein mixtures: (i) a mixture that is rich in anthocyanin (blackcurrant pectin-whey protein, BCP-WP) and (ii) a mixture that is free of anthocyanin (citrus pectin-whey protein, CP-WP) (Chapter 7). The mixtures were prepared at pH 4.5 with and without heat treatment at 85 °C. The study revealed that there was no direct relationship between anthocyanin presence and the destabilisation of mixtures. The Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrum of the heated and non-heated BCP-WP sedimented fractions showed the emergence of a peak at 800-1200 cm⁻¹, signifying the presence of anthocyanin-protein interactions. This peak, however, was absent in the spectrum of any of the anthocyanin-free CP-WP sedimented fractions, indicating that the bound anthocyanins of blackcurrant pectin provided the whey proteins with additional binding sites. The findings from FTIR analyses also indicated that non-electrostatic forces were most likely the governing forces of the heated BCP-WP mixture, via hydrophobic interactions and later reinforced by hydrogen bonds upon cooling.

This thesis revealed that poor phase stability of the blackcurrant juice-milk system should not be attributed exclusively to the blackcurrant juice components, particularly the polyphenols. Environmental factors like pH and heat were likely the leading cause of phase instability as they could intensify the interactions that occurred in the mixed system, which eventually destabilised the mixture. This suggests that appropriate processing conditions can be applied to positively affect the blackcurrant juice-milk system.


MBIE: Innovative NZ Hybrid UHT Food Products programme C10X1502


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