Nithyapriya Manivannan

Title of the project: Se-enriched functional food: interactions and competing mechanisms among different elements

Supervisors and Host institutions: Dr. Laura Simonelli and Dr. Roberto Boada at ALBA CELLS, Prof. Manuel Valiente at Universit

Micronutrients, as selenium (Se), are essential for maintaining a good human health. Se-biofortification of plants provides the opportunity to produce organic bioavailable selenium based food. However, the beneficial aspects of the Se supplementation are intimately linked to the Se species present in food. Hence, it is very important to understand and to be able to tailor the Se species yield by the different Se-enrichment treatments. My project is focused on analysing the fate of Se in Se-biofortified wheat using X-ray spectroscopic techniques. For that purpose, wheat has been grown hydroponically and in soil pots. Different Se-enrichment treatments based on cost-efficient inorganic Se feeds are being considered. In addition, the effect of different heavy metal pollutants on the level of Se and the Se species is being studied to cover realistic cultivation scenarios.

"DOC-FAM and MSCA are a platform for original and interdisciplinary science and opportunities."

I started my research career in Materials Science working as a nanomaterials project trainee in India after finishing my bachelors in Biomedical Engineering. Its interdisciplinary nature helped me to specialize in nanotechnology and polymer science in my Masters at Miskolc (Hungary) under stipendium hungaricum scholarship program. My Master’s thesis work was focused on the stabilization of magnetite nanoparticles for bio imaging. In addition, I also worked on the synthesis of alkaline metal doped zinc oxide nanoparticles for water treatment and on the fabrication of nano multilayer coatings using physical vapour deposition. This offered me the possibility of learning different material sample preparation and characterization techniques. Currently, I am performing my PhD studies on Environmental Chemistry and Food Science using advanced characterization synchrotron techniques. My work is devoted to speciation studies using X-ray absorption spectroscopy and cultivation methods for producing biofortified plants. I hope to continue my career by working in the Environmental and Nanoscience to develop materials towards sustainability.

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