Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls

Director, Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences

 Professor Mike Gidley

Professor Gidley obtained a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Chemistry, at the University of London in 1977 and went on to complete his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge in 1982.

Before establishing CNAFS in 2003 (a joint initiative between UQ and the Queensland Government), Professor Gidley worked for Unilever Research in the United Kingdom for more than 20 years, beginning as a research scientist and culminating as the Group Leader for Plant-based Foods and Ingredients.

Professor Gidley’s major research interest is the linking of plant molecular structures to macroscopic properties with relevance to plant-based food properties.

In particular, Professor Gidley is interested in investigating polysaccharide assemblies such as plant cell walls (as part of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls and starch granules, particularly the way these structures are assembled in nature and then disassembled during manufacturing and later during digestion.

Professor Gidley’s field of research involves the use of spectroscopic, microscopic and materials analyses of natural materials and model systems. Insights into structure-property relationships are obtained and can then be used to provide targets for raw materials and processes with enhanced food and nutritional properties.


Plant cell walls and starch granules represent respectively the dominant global sources of biomass and nutritional energy for humans. Both involve the controlled assembly of polysaccharides into solid phase materials with characteristic hierarchical structures.

Through studying the structure, architecture and properties of these assemblies from nm to cm scales, the critical length scales and structural features responsible for important properties are defined.

Application of findings to the design and evaluation of foods for nutritional benefits involves assessing effects of controlled food or ingredient composition and architecture on digestion and fermentation properties, together with consequent biological responses, both in vitro and in vivo. Extension of findings on cell walls and starch granules to whole plant-derived foods allows an understanding of the mechanisms underlying the epidemiological characterisation of these foods as ‘naturally functional’.

Work on plant cell walls is carried out as part of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls

The application of Professor Gidley’s expertise is reflected in his current and most recent projects. These include:

  • Plant cell wall architecture and molecular organisation;
  • Mechanisms underlying nutritional benefits of cereal plant cell wall components through detailed study of in vivo (pig) and in vitro digestion;
  • Molecular and microscopic origins for starch digestibility rates and extents;
  • Biomimetic models for the assembly of plant cell walls using cellulose-producing bacteria;
  • Structure-rheology relationships in plant polysaccharides, assemblies and foods, before and during digestion;
  • Roles for plant cell walls in controlling the bioaccessibility of nutrients in plant-based foods.

Professor Gidley has published more than 160 peer-reviewed papers with more than 5000 citations and has an H-index of 42.

He is a member of the DIISR Food Processing Industry Strategy Group, the Australian Academy of Sciences National Nutrition Committee, and the National Food and Nutrition Leaders Forum.

Before moving to Brisbane, he was a member of BBSRC (UK) grant-awarding committees in Plant and Microbial Sciences, and Agri-Food Sciences (1996-2003).

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Prof. Mike Gidley
Tel: (07) 3365 2145


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