Department of Bioactive and Functional Food Chemistry

Department of Bioactive and Functional Food Chemistry




We focus on answering the following main research questions:



How do different factors (e.g., raw materials, industrial processing and microbial fermentation) influence structure, functionality and bioactivity within proteins as well as between proteins and other food components?



How do environmental factors influence the protein composition of crops and how can this knowledge be used to improve food security, food quality and food safety?



How do food proteins interact with the human gastrointestinal and immune systems and gut microbiota?



Why does the prevalence of food hypersensitivities, e.g., celiac disease or allergies, increase within the population?




New papers in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and Cereal Chemistry

Epidemiologic studies suggest an increasing prevalence of celiac disease and nonceliac gluten/wheat sensitivity. One hypothesis is that wheat breeding over the course of the last century might have caused changes in the composition of wheat proteins. To verify or falsify this hypothesis, we investigated agronomic and proteomic characteristics of a well-defined sample set comprising the 60 most widely grown winter wheat cultivars in Germany from 1891 to 2010 grown in three consecutive harvest years together with Hans Weber and Andreas Börner from the Leibniz-Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben, Germany. At protein level, we found no evidence to support an increased immunostimulatory potential of modern wheats compared to old wheat. A new data evaluation approach allowed us to map the protein fingerprints of the different cultivars in greater detail and to identify exceptional samples. The full texts are available here: doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c02815 External Link and here: doi: 10.1002/cche.10323 External Link

New book

Our book "Wheat - An Exceptional Crop: Botanical Features, Chemistry, Utilization, Nutritional and Health Aspects" is available now. We discuss the benefits of wheat from a wheat science, nutrition and technology perspective and provide an overview of adverse reactions to wheat. Find out more here: ISBN 9780128217153


New paper in Frontiers in Plant Science

As a result of our successful collaboration over many years, our joint paper together with Eszter Schall, Zsuzsanna Bugyi, Kitti Török, Peter Koehler, Regine Schoenlechner and Sándor Tömösközi was just accepted today in Frontiers in Plant Science. We report our work entitled "Further steps towards the development of gluten reference materials – wheat flours or protein isolates?". The full text is available here: doi: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00906 External Link


New book chapter in the Reference Module in Food Science

Our invited contribution entitled "Proteomics in Food Quality" in the Reference Module in Food Science is now available online. Dr. Sabrina Geisslitz and I provide an overview of proteomics techniques and definitions of food quality and discuss interesting applications of proteomics to study milk and dairy products, eggs, meat and cereals. Find out more here: doi: 10.1016/B978-0-08-100596-5.22762-5 External Link


Heidi Strumpf starts as a secretary and will take care of all sorts of administrative tasks and support all of us as our competent contact person. Welcome to our group!

Nora Jahn and Alena Maric start their MSc theses on α-amylase/trypsin inhibitors and gluten detection. Welcome to our group!


New paper in Frontiers in Nutrition

Our collaborative paper from the Prolamin Working Group (PWG), namely Carlo Catassi, Fernando G. Chirdo, Paul J. Ciclitira, Conleth Feighery, Carmen Gianfrani, Frits Koning, Knut E. Lundin, Detlef Schuppan, Marinus J. Smulders, Olivier Tranquet, Riccardo Troncone and Peter Koehler, entitled "Recent progress and recommendations on celiac disease from the Working Group on Prolamin Analysis and Toxicity" was just accepted today in Frontiers in Nutrition. Based on the current state of knowledge, this perspective from the PWG members provides recommendations regarding clinical, analytical and legal aspects of celiac disease. The full text is available here: doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.00029 External Link


Sabrina Geißlitz receives the scientific award of the Association of German Industrial Bakeries

On January 17, 2020, Dr. Sabrina Geißlitz was awarded with the scientific award of the Association of German Industrial Bakeries (Verband Deutscher Großbäckereien e.V.) during the 49th Scientific information meeting of the Berlin-Brandenburg Association for Grain Research (Berlin-Brandenburgische Gesellschaft für Getreideforschung e.V.) in Berlin, DE. The prize honors her excellent PhD thesis entitled "Proteins of einkorn, emmer and spelt: Influence on baking quality and role in wheat-related hypersensitivities".

Press release of the Verband Deutscher Großbäckereien e.V.

Presentation of the award to Dr. Sabrina Geißlitz by the managing director of the Association of German Industrial Bakeries, Armin Juncker (left) and Prof. Dr. Dr. Friedrich Meuser (right). © Verband Deutscher Großbäckereien e.V.

Dr. Sabrina Geißlitz starts as a research fellow in our group. Her research focuses on technofunctional, analytical and health-related aspects of ancient cereals such as spelt, emmer and einkorn. Welcome to our group!



Charlotte Stemler starts her PhD thesis on “Substrate specificities of baking lipases in fine bakery goods”. Welcome to our group!


New paper in Frontiers in Plant Science

Our review together with Thais O. Alves, Carolina T. S. D'Almeida and Mariana S. L. Ferreira entitled "Modern approaches in the identification and quantification of immunogenic peptides in cereals by LC-MS/MS" was just accepted today in Frontiers in Plant Science. We discuss the main proteomic techniques used in the identification and quantitation of gluten peptides related to celiac disease activity and wheat-related allergies. Read the full text here: doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01470 External Link


© Heinrich-Stockmeyer-Stiftung
Katharina Scherf receives the Stockmeyer Wissenschaftspreis

On September 26, 2019, Katharina Scherf was awarded with the Science Award of the Heinrich-Stockmeyer-Foundation (Wissenschaftspreis der Heinrich-Stockmeyer-Stiftung) during the 59th Food Hygiene Workshop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, DE. The award recognizes outstanding research projects in food sciences and is endowed with 5000 Euros. In accordance with the purposes of the Foundation, the award-winning projects offer practical solutions and application-oriented research to improve food safety and consumer protection as well as to strengthen consumer trust in food quality and safety. Scherf receives the prize for her habilitation thesis and, more specifically, for the development of a new test to detect gluten in cereal products that is already commercially available and more accurate than previously used methods.

Stockmeyer Wissenschaftspreis


Majlinda Xhaferaj starts her PhD thesis on “Improved reference materials for the analysis of gluten from wheat, rye and barley”. Welcome to our group!

Together with Alberto Caminero, Michelle Colgrave and Melanie Downs, Katharina Scherf is Guest Editor for the Research Topic “Gluten, from plant to plate: Implications for people with celiac disease” in Frontiers in Plant Science and Frontiers in Nutrition (Frontiers, Lausanne, Switzerland). The deadline for manuscript submission is August 16, 2019.