Chemistry and functionality of carbohydrates and derivatives (PREBIOIN)

Department of Bioactivity and Food Analysis

The Institute of Research in Food Science (CIAL)

About Us

The Chemistry and functionality of carbohydrates and derivatives (PREBIOIN) group is constituted by researchers with extensive experience and visibility in research on food and specifically on one of the major components of food such as carbohydrates, carrying out a varied research from different perspectives. It is a consolidated group consisting of three researchers on staff and several contracted post- and pre-doctoral researchers. The PREBIOIN Group is positioned in the VIDA Global Area and its work topics are within the solutions of great social impact proposed by the CSIC. The main line of research of the group is the production of carbohydrates and derivatives through sustainable strategies and processes of integral use of food waste and by-products, for use in the preparation of healthy foods.


This research line is developed following different sublines of research:

I) Design of new strategies for the synthesis of bioactive compounds derived from carbohydrates and with good technological properties for incorporation into food, through the use of carbohydrate modifying enzymes of microbial origin. In this sense, enzymes from probiotic bacteria have been used, these being, mainly, alfa and beta glycosidases and cyclodextrin-transferases. The use of these enzymes with different glycosidase activities has led to the efficient obtaining of new hypocaloric sweeteners, low glycemic index carbohydrates, prebiotics or aglycones with potential anticancer properties, among others. Specifically, the structural elucidation of galactosylated polyalcohols, new alfa-galacto-oligosaccharides (hetero-alfa-GOS) and enzymatically modified terpene glycosides, as well as prebiotics recognized as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) type inulin and beta-galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) has been successfully achieved. Regarding the functional and technological characterization of the new bioactive compounds, the development of robust and reliable in vitro methodologies can be indicated for evaluating the digestibility of carbohydrates and derivatives using enzymatic extracts from the small intestine of mammals (rat or pig) combining it with sensitive and resolute techniques of carbohydrate detection with the aim of deciphering the structural characteristics that contribute to their resistance to gastrointestinal digestion.

II) Obtaining pectins and pectic-oligosaccharides from alternative sources from waste generated in the fruit and vegetable processing industry. Initially, in this subline, extraction procedures have been developed based on the application of sustainable techniques such as the use of organic acids (GRAS), ultrasound and enzymatic procedures. In addition, by means of advanced analytical techniques, the structural and functional characterization of the new oligo- and polysaccharides originated has been carried out. These structures have been found to have low glycemic index, beneficial effects on the intestinal microbiota and anti-inflammatory effects, among other properties.  Given that the processes of obtaining pectins and derivatives can paradoxically originate an accumulation of both liquid and solid waste with biomass rich in carbohydrates and phytochemicals, a recent objective of the group is the development of a strategy for the integral use of by-products of the agri-food industry (artichoke, broccoli and alperujo) within a biorefinery context,  in order to obtain pectins and derivatives, as well as other compounds of interest, with the ultimate goal of originating “zero waste” (ODS, 12). Thus, the application of enzymes and clean technologies such as ultrasound and microwaves, with deep eutectic liquids such as solvents and purification with membrane technology, will be able to guarantee the production of ingredients and foods with healthy properties, designed for specific populations of consumers, guaranteeing the preservation of the environment. At the same time, in solid waste after pectin extraction and in lignocellulosic biomass, hemicellulose is an important group of polysaccharides that is not used efficiently to obtain bioethanol, but which is of great interest for obtaining oligosaccharides such as xylo- and arabinoxylo-oligosaccharides with prebiotic properties.


Prof. Dr. Javier Moreno, e-mail:

Prof. Dr. Antonia Montilla, e-mail: