School of Biosciences

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Tim Parr

Professor in Nutritional Biochemistry, Faculty of Science


  • workRoom B23 North Laboratory
    Sutton Bonington Campus
    Sutton Bonington
    LE12 5RD
  • work0115 951 6128
  • fax0115 951 6122

Research Summary

My research interests are predominantly in nutrition and animal production particularly the metabolic mechanism involved in nutrient deposition with focus on protein.

Insects as an alternative source of quality protein

Livestock provide food with high nutritional value but are frequently fed on human-edible crops and are associated with significant production of greenhouse gases. Recent years have seen increasing interest in the farming of insects and other alternatives as sustainable sources of human food and quality protein, or as a replacement of ingredients such as soya or fishmeal in the feeds of terrestrial livestock or fish.

Our research work is seeking investigate nutrient metabolism in insects used for food and feed. We are investigating the impact of different feed sources on nutrient deposition so that a wider range of feed sources (preferably by products and underutilised plants) can be used We are also investigating the dynamic nature of insect metabolism. Insects are at an earlier stage of use as food production animals, but we postulated that by identifying the capacity and potential limits of altering insect body composition we can enhance their production efficiency and product quality.

This work is part of a wider research interests which are looking at the development of alternative sources of protein for food and feed. As well as insects our lab is involved investigating the use of alternative crops and single cell sources of protein such as bacteria. In addition, in collaboration with industry collaborators, our work is currently examining the digestibility of these alternative protein sources using an in vitro model of digestibility effects but also examining the factors in feeds that affect gut digestibility on nutrient availability.

Skeletal Muscle Protein Turnover and Growth

Our research is being carried out into the mechanisms controlling muscle growth particularly protein deposition. Our work has used exogenous endocrine-related factors, such as beta -adrenergic agonists, growth hormone and Vitamin D, to examine their impact on muscle gene transcription. We have identified that stimulated increases in muscle mass are associated with changes in muscle energy metabolism and fibre type changes along with the synthesis of non-essential amino acids, particularly serine. We are currently investigating the relationships between energy metabolism and muscle growth.

Our lab also has investigated role of proteolytic enzymes in muscle. focus from the calpain family which are believed to be involved in the initiation of muscle protein turnover. We have been involved in research trying to determine the interrelationship between these enzymes and muscle protein turnover. The calpain proteolytic system consists of calpain enzyme isoforms and a specific endogenous inhibitor calpastatin. Variation in the ratio of enzyme to inhibitor has been correlated to differences in meat quality. We have carried out research investigating the role the calpain proteolytic system along with other potential "initiating" proteolytic enzyme systems in the process of meat.

Selected Publications

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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