The course provides the student with theoretical and practical knowledge of advanced techniques of microscopy, microanalysis and image analysis as tools for investigating and understanding both properties and behaviour of food products.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the students will be able to identify and use the microscopy techniques suitable for the study of the microstructure of food or biological matrices in general, depending on the desired information. Students will also be able to develop protocols for the evaluation at a microstructural level of qualitative and technological aspects of food and interpret the observations obtained with microscopy and microanalysis also through image analysis.
Introduction to advanced microscopy techniques as tools for investigating food microstructure. Background knowledge of fundamentals, fields of application, sensitivity and pitfalls of the different techniques of observation and the related sample preparation approaches, with special regard to: - Optical microscopy and sample staining techniques - Fluorescence microscopy and use of specific probes for food component localization - Electron microscopy in combination with microanalysis or specific labelling tools. Microstructure of colloids, emulsions, gels, powders, crystals of food interest. Identification and localization of lipids, proteins, sugars, microorganisms in food matrices through specific labelling techniques. Investigation of instability and interaction phenomena in both raw materials and finished products, with special regard to: gelation, coalescence, flocculation, polymerisation. Effects of technological processes (homogenization, heating, centrifugation, drying, mixing, freezing, fermentation) and storage on food microstructure. The course includes practical sessions (2 cfu) where the student will work on real food samples (dairy or cereal foods) using microscopy equipment under the supervision of technical staff. The results will be interpreted through the image analysis.
The student will be asked to write and discuss a technical report of the work done during the practical session.
Slides provided by the teacher and notes of the lessons, technical documentation available on the internet.