School of Medical Sciences

Dietry fibre

Principal investigator


My research spans a variety of projects, all of which concern plant cell walls. The research involves the use of biochemical and chemical techniques, as well as light and electron microscopy. One of the current projects seeks to determine how cellulose is held in plant cell walls and involves the use of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). This project is being carried out in collaboration with Assoc Prof L D Melton, Food Science, the School of Chemical Sciences and Dr R H Newman, Industrial Research Ltd., Lower Hutt. In addition to this fundamental work on plant cell walls, work is also being carried out on the role that plant cell walls (dietary fibres) play in protecting against the development of colorectal cancer. This research is being carried out in collaboration with Assoc Prof L R Ferguson, Cancer Society Research Centre.

Selected references

Harris P.J., Tasman-Jones C., Ferguson L.R. (2000). Effects of two contrasting dietary fibres on starch digestion, short-chain fatty acid production and transit time in rats. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 80: 2089-95. Ferguson L.R., Harris P.J. (2000). The study of antigenotoxic effects of dietary fibre is lost in a confused concept. Mutation Research 447: 319-22. Ferguson L.R., Harris P.J. (2000).

Adsorption of carcinogens by dietary fibres. In: Handbook of dietary fiber in functional foods development. Eds S. Sungshoo Cho and M Dreher. Marcel Dekker, pp. 207-18.