Project Leader Eva Johansson

Last changed: 15 April 2024

Subject leader within C4F for: Biorefinery use of crops; tailoring end-use properties, specifically in absorbents and foams, ty the combined use of genotypes, environment, extraction routes, additives and processing conditions.

Expertise related to the C4F research areas

With a college engineering degree in chemistry, a bachelor degree in biology, a PhD in plant breeding and a professorship in agricultural sciences with specialisation in plant product quality, I have obviously a cross-disciplinary background and competence. My research interest in my entire research carreer have been focused towards the understanding of how different factors, such as the plant material and its cultivation conditions, are influencing different components in the plants that are related to quality of the end-use products of the plant. Furthermore, the combined effect of the plant material with additives applied, extraction routes used and processing conditions defined, to impact the end-use properties for either food, feed or industrial uses are additional interests of mine. Plant components of specific interest have over the years been primarily the proteins although the focus has also been on nutritional components such as minerals, vitamins and bioactive components among others. The biorefinery concept with multiple uses and products from the same crop has been central in the research as has also the continuous collaboration with industry and society.

Thus, my expertise of relevance to C4F lies specifically in the field of tailoring the end-use properties of plants for multi-purpose use applying a cross-disciplinary approach in close collaboration with industry and society.

Brief summary of the major achievements

The major achievements within this subject of C4F can be subdivided into four areas; 1) effects of genotypes, environments, and processing on protein content, composition and structures; 2) impact of extraction routes and additives on protein quality and functionality of food and materials produced thereof; 3) biobased absorbents and foams; 4) biorefinery use of plants.

1.     Effects of genotypes, environments and processing on protein content, composition and structures

This topic was one of our major topics already at the start of TC4F in 2010, although only focusing on the impact on bread-making quality by genotypes and environment. Within TC4F and C4F, we have been able to verify that the plant material, especially together with selected processing conditions, plays a substantial role for all types of products also including biobased materials. Thus, by selection of the “right” plant material and sufficient cultivation conditions, it is possible to tailor the quality of the plant material to fit the end-use products. As plant material will become increasingly important in our future bioeconomy society for a range of products, a closer collaboration will be needed between plant breeders, farmers and biobased/food industry in order to develop high quality products for the consumer. Thereby, these findings within TC4F/C4F has contributed substantial knowledge to coming projects within C4F, but also to SLU Grogrund and projects from other funders within this field. Examples of publications from this research area is no 4 (in Green Chemistry IF>8), 8 (highly cited paper in Cereal Chemistry) and 9 (we got price for most highly cited paper in Journal of Cereal Science) in the below list.

2.     Impact of extraction routes and additives on protein quality and functionality of food and materials produced thereof

This topic has been partly developed within TC4F and C4F. The positive impact of certain additives on end-use quality was certainly well known at the start of TC4F in 2010 although we have been able to demonstrate a higher impact of specifically certain enzymes (paper 2 below). The importance of the extraction routes of e.g. proteins had not been clearly demonstrated when TC4F started and we are among the first to clearly demonstrate their effects on the end-use quality of a products (papers 3 and 6 below). The research in this area has also contributed to the development of Vinnova application for the Plant Protein Factory and the development of the pilot plant.

3.     Biobased absorbents and foams

Our major achievements in the biobased absorbents and foams area goes totally hand in hand with the TC4F/C4F program. We have been developing research results as regards to foams suitable for food applications, insulation of houses applications and diapers applications, for the latter we also have results on superabsorbing powders (publications 1, 5, 10 below). Foams with many different properties have been developed both with superabsorbent capacity (manuscript in press) and with fire and dripping resistance as well as those being resistant to microbial attacks (paper 5 below). For the superabsorbents, we have recently submitted two patent applications in collaboration with industry and we also are working together with industry to set up a pilot plant for production of superabsorbents.

4.     Biorefinery use of plants

Within this area we have been working on multiple uses of the plant including extraction of platform chemicals, proteins, other suitable components for the nutraceutical and food industry and use of biogas as a residual. Feasibility studies to understand what products has the highest economical value is an important part in these studies. One important paper as an example of publications in this area is no 7 below (being highly cited). In this area we have been working with a large number of different crops and products. Also this area of research has contributed to the development of the Plant Protein Factory proposal and pilot plant.


Ten selected key publications

1. Capezza A, Newson W, Olsson R, Hedenqvist M, Johansson E (2019) Advances in the use of protein-based materials: towards sustainable naturally sourced absorbent materials. ACS Sust Chem Eng 7: 4532-4547.

2. Ceresino EB, de Melo RR, Kuktaite R, Hedenqvist MS, Zucchi TD, Johansson E, Sato HH (2018) Transglutaminase from newly isolated Streptomyces sp. CBMAI 1617: production optimization, characterization and evaluation in wheat protein and dough systems. Food Chem 241:403-410.

3. Newson WR, Prieto-Linde ML, Kuktaite R, Hedenqvist MS, Gällstedt M, Johansson E (2017) Effect of extraction routes on protein content, solubility and molecular weight distribution of Crambe abyssinica protein concentrates and thermally processed films thereof. Ind Crops Prod. 97:591-598.

4. Rasheed F, Kuktaite R, Hedenqvist MS, Gällstedt M, Plivelic T, Johansson E (2016) The use of the plant as a “green factory” to produce high strength gluten-based plastics. Green Chem. 18:2782-2792.

5. Wu Q, Yu S, Kollert M, Mtimet M, Roth SV, Gedde UW, Johansson E, Olsson RT, Hedenqvist MS (2016) Highly absorbing antimicrobial biofoams based on wheat-gluten and its biohybrids. ACS Sust Chem Engineer 4:2395-2404.

6. Rasheed F, Hedenqvist MS, Kuktaite R, Plivelic TS, Gällstedt M, Johansson E (2015) Mild gluten separation – A non-destructive approach to fine tune structure and mechanical behaviour of wheat gluten films. Ind Crops Prod 73:90-98.

7. Gunnarsson IB, Svensson S-E, Johansson E, Karakashev D, Angelidaki I (2014) Potential of Jerusalem artichoke (Helanthus tuberosum L.) as a biorefinery crop. Ind Crops Prod 56:231-240.

8. Johansson E, Malik AH, Hussain A, Rasheed F, Newson WR, Plivelic T, Hedenqvist MS, Gällstedt M, Kuktaite R (2013) Wheat gluten polymer structures: The impact of genotype, environment and processing on their functionality in various applications. Cereal Chem. 90:367-376.

9. Malik AH, Kuktaite R, Johansson E (2013) Combined effect of genetic and environmental factors on the accumulation of proteins in the wheat grain and their relationship to bread-making quality. J Cereal Sci 57:170-174.

10. Blomfeldt TOJ, Kuktaite R, Johansson E, Hedenqvist MS (2011) Mechanical Properties and Network Structure of Wheat Gluten Foams. Biomacromol 12:1707-1715.