Professor Les Copeland
Achieving food security involves increasing crop productivity as well as enhancing the use of produce through ensuring the fitness-for-purpose (quality) of food and feed grains. My research seeks a greater understanding of quality requirements of grains for specific end uses in food processing and for human nutrition. This research considers how quality is influenced by interactions between genetics and the environment in which the crop is grown.
Research interests & background
I have an extensive background as a researcher in plant and food biochemistry. By applying a biochemical approach to a broad range of topics of strategic interest in agriculture, food science and the environment, my research group has contributed key knowledge of the pathways of carbon metabolism in plants, especially in symbiotic nitrogen fixing legume nodules, and on the relationship between form and function of starch and proteins in cereal grains.
The main theme of my current research is cereal chemistry and biochemistry, in particular the quality of food grains in relation to fitness-for-purpose in food processing and human nutrition. A wide range of physical, chemical, biochemical, proteomic and imaging methods are being used to address questions relating to:
- The form and function of starch granules, starch molecules and starch-lipid complexes
- The enzymic digestibility of starch and starch-lipid complexes
- How genetics and environment influence grain quality and the expression of grain proteins
- The effect of postharvest storage on the properties
- Functionality of starch and proteins of grains
I also have research interests on characterizing ancient starch granules in archaeological samples to explore the origins of agriculture and human diets.
Les Copeland graduated from the University of Sydney with a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Biochemistry. After postdoctoral research in the USA, at Yale University and the State University of New York, Buffalo, he took up an academic appointment in the Faculty of Agriculture in the University of Sydney, where he has been since 1974. He was Head of the Department of Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science (1993-2000), and Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (2001-2007). Les was a Fulbright Fellow in the University of California in Davis, USA in 1979-80, and a Visiting Fellow in the Australian National University in 1986 and 1992. He was the Foundation President of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture in 2007-08. He has over 130 publications, and has been the Supervisor of 29 completed and 5 current PhD students. He holds a Graduate Diploma of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Australian Farm Institute. His research and teaching cover a wide range of areas in agricultural, food and environmental chemistry and biochemistry, and scientific communication. He has extensive experience in international projects.
Blazek J, Gilbert EP, Copeland L 2011 Effects of monoglycerides on pasting properties of wheat starch after repeated heating and cooling. Journal of Cereal Science (in press)
Wang S, Sharp P, Copeland L 2011. Structural and functional properties of starches from field peas. Food Chemistry 126: 1546-1552
Blazek J and Copeland L 2010. Amylolysis of wheat starches. Part I. Digestion kinetics of starches with varying functional properties. Journal of Cereal Science 51: 265-270
Blazek J, Copeland L 2010. Amylolysis of wheat starches. Part II. Degradation patterns of native starch granules of starches with varying functional properties. Journal of Cereal Science 52: 295-302
Salman H and Copeland L 2010. Effect of repeated heating and cooling cycles on the pasting properties of starch. Journal of Cereal Science 51: 105-109
Copeland L and Wilkes MA 2010. The potential for proteomics in cereal science. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources 5 No. 040: 1-9 (http://www.cabi.org/cabreviews)
Wilkes MA, Seung D, Levavasseur G, Trethowan RM, and Copeland L. 2010. Effects of soil type and tillage on protein and starch quality in three related wheat genotypes. Cereal Chemistry 87: 95-99
Copeland L, Blazek J, Salman H and Tang CM 2009. Form and functionality of starch. Food Hydrocolloids 23: 1527-1534
Salman H, Blazek J, Lopez-Rubio A, Gilbert EP, Hanley T and Copeland L 2009. Structure-function relationships in A and B granules from wheat starches of similar amylose content. Carbohydrate Polymers 75: 420 427
Hardy K, Blakeney AB, Copeland L, Kirkham J, Wrangham RW and Collins MJ 2009. Starch granules, dental calculus and new perspectives on ancient diet. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 248-255