Prof. Pete Wilde

Emeritus Fellow

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Food structure, colloids and digestion


I graduated with a degree in Biophysics from the University of East Anglia in 1985, and began my research career at the Institute of Food Research in the same year, working on the dielectric spectroscopy of protein systems. Since then my main research interest has been relating to the interfacial properties of surface-active food components with functional properties of foods. My initial research was to determine how molecular structure and properties influence interfacial behaviour, which in turn controls bulk functional behaviour (i.e. foam and emulsion stability). My main interest was to understand how proteins adsorb at interfaces, how they interact with surfactants and emulsifiers, what structural changes take place and how this affects interfacial tension, interfacial rheology, adsorbed layer dynamics and subsequent foam and emulsion properties.

My research focus has gradually changed over the years, and now the main aims of my research are to understand how the microstructure of food changes during digestion and the impact of this on health. I am interested in how the molecular and interfacial properties influence the fundamental mechanisms that control the texture breakdown and digestion of food emulsion systems in order to develop strategies for improving the nutritional impact of dietary fats. This includes investigating the key interfacial and colloidal mechanisms underpinning the digestion and absorption of dietary fat, and how this may impact on physiological responses such as satiety, serum lipids and cholesterol.

I also have a broader interest in how the different length scales of structure in food influence the way it is digested. I firmly believe that the structure of the food we eat is the single most important factor determining the health outcomes of our diet. By understanding the relationship between food structure and health, we can understand how foods can be designed to control the rate and extent of digestion and delivery of beneficial compounds to the microbiota. Controlling the kinetics of digestion and fermentation can lead to positive health benefits such as improved glucose, lipid and insulin response and promotion of satiety. These will ultimately lead to improved outcomes in individuals in terms of obesity, type 2 diabetes and related metabolic conditions.

I have published over 135 papers (h-index = 40, average citations = 33 per paper) and presented approximately 15 invited lectures at international meetings. I am a member of the Food Group Committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry. I am on the editorial board of Food Hydrocolloids and Colloids and Interfaces. I am an Honorary Professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia.

Key Publications

Wilde, PJ, Mackie, AR, Husband, FA, Gunning, AP, and Morris, VJ, Proteins and emulsifiers at liquid interfaces. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, (2004). 108, 63-71.

Proctor, GB, Hamdan, S, Carpenter, GH, and Wilde, P, A statherin and calcium enriched layer at the air interface of human parotid saliva. Biochemical Journal, (2005). 389, 111-116.

Wilde, PJ and Chu, BS, Interfacial & colloidal aspects of lipid digestionAdv. Colloid Interface Sci. 2011, 165, 14-22.

Parker R, Rigby NM, Ridout MJ, Gunning AP and Wilde PJ. The adsorption–desorption behaviour and structure function relationships of bile salts. Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 6457-6466.

Buchweitz, M, Kroon PA, Rich, GT and Wilde PJ. Quercetin solubilisation in bile salts: A comparison with sodium dodecyl sulphate. Food Chemistry. 2016, 211, 356-364.

Colosimo R, Harris H, Ahn-Jarvis J, Rey P, Finnegan T, Wilde PJ, Warren . (2024)

Colonic in vitro fermentation of mycoprotein promotes shifts in gut microbiota, with enrichment of Bacteroides species

Communications Biology

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Jin YY, Wilde P, Li CP, Jin WP, Han JZ, Liu W. (2023)

Impact of food viscosity on in vitro gastric emptying using dynamic and semi-dynamic models

Food Hydrocolloids, 137, 108410

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Pigliacelli C, Belton P, Wilde P, Bombelli FB, Kroon PA, Winterbone MS, Qi . (2023)

Interaction of polymers with bile salts – Impact on solubilisation and absorption of poorly water-soluble drugs.

Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces, 113044

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Zaeim D, Mulet-Cabero A, Read S, Liu W, Han J, Wilde . (2022)

Effect of oil droplet size on the gastric digestion of milk protein emulsions using a semi-dynamic gastric model

Food Hydrocolloids, 124, 107278

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Jin Y, Wilde P, Hou Y, Wang Y, Han J, Liu . (2022)

An evolving view on food viscosity regulating gastric emptying.

Critical reviews in food science and nutrition

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Speciale PJ, Bashllari R, Muscara C, Molonia MS, Saija A, Saha S, Wilde PJ, Cimino . (2022)

Anti-inflammatory activity of an in vitro digested anthocyanin-rich extract on intestinal epithelial cells exposed to TNF-a

Molecules, 27, 2022 Aug 23;27(17):5368

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