O2– Proteins present in the cardoon seed flour can be used as biopolymer source for the production of food biodegradable/edible films and coatings. To improve the functional properties of these materials the enzyme transglutaminase of microbial origin (mTG) has been successfully exploited over the last 15 years [23-26]. mTG is a calcium independent enzyme that catalyzes formation of isopeptide bonds between Gln and Lys into proteins [23; 25; 26].
The main disadvantage of protein-based films is their low mechanical properties and high sensitivity to moisture that reduce the barrier properties of these materials. In particular, proteins have poor oxygen and carbon dioxide permeability. Therefore, they could be added with new plasticizers, reinforced with nanoparticles and/or laminated with other hydrophobic polymers to obtain multilayer coating and/or packaging systems with improved mechanical properties and/or higher barrier properties [27-33]. One specific objective of this project is the use of cardoon flour proteins possibly modified by mTG to prepare hydrocolloid-based films, that can be used to extend the shelf-life of different foods . To overcome the drawbacks of low resistance and high-water vapour permeability of the hydrocolloid films, the effects of different plasticizers will be studied. Different blended and/or multilayered films will be produced by using different polysaccharides. A novel packaging material will be also investigated by constituting
blended and multilayered structures composed by cardoon proteins/polysaccharides and PHA mixtures or layers. Moreover, different nanoparticles (such as mesoporous silica aminated) will be used, for further reinforcing film matrix.
Finally, the blended and multilayered films, showing the best technological properties, will be used as support for the incorporation of bioactive molecules as described below.