Yves Desjardins

Yves Desjardins

Science de l'agriculture et de l'alimentation
Université Laval

Chair title

NSERC/Diana Food Industrial Research Chair on the Effects of Polyphenol Prebiotics from Fruits and Vegetables

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2018


Over the next few years, prebiotics will catalyze the growth of the functional food and nutraceutical industry. In fact, we are just starting to understand how important diet is to the intestinal microbiome and how it can prevent chronic illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in fibre and polyphenols on a regular basis can have a significant impact on the microbiome and therefore has significant health benefits. In this context, the NSERC/Diana Food Industrial Research Chair on the Effects of Polyphenol Prebiotics from Fruits and Vegetables aims to use metabolomics and metagenomics to determine the effect of certain polyphenols–whether on their own or together–on intestinal microbial flora. The Chair will focus specifically on studying the effect of tannin-rich extracts on the reciprocal interaction that arises between the microbiome and these molecules, and to understand the physiological mechanisms that explain their health effects.

The Chairholder, Yves Desjardins, is a professor in the Plant Science Department at the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at Université Laval and has been an active member of the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF) for more than 15 years. As a scientific leader, he has overseen several large clinical studies on the effects of polyphenols in berries on type 2 diabetes, memory loss, urinary tract infections and mild inflammation. His research focuses on the role of diet and particularly on the role of fibre and polyphenols in the modulation of the intestinal microbiome, their microbial metabolism and their bioavailability in relation to health.

The general objectives of the Chair can be broken down into three main areas:

  1. Develop innovative technologies to extract, isolate and concentrate polyphenols from fruits and vegetables and their by-products;
  2. Determine the types of microbial metabolites resulting from colonic fermentation of polyphenols; identify, from the Institute of Nutritional and Functional Foods’ fecal specimen bank, the metabotypes capable of metabolizing and potentiating polyphenols; and
  3. Verify the prebiotic effect of various fruit and vegetable extracts on the growth of beneficial colonic bacteria in an artificial digestive system.

The proposed experimental approach targets products of interest to Diana Food Canada, namely cranberries, strawberries, cloudberries and onions, as well as tropical fruits such as bananas, camu camu and acerola. Ultimately, thanks to the new knowledge acquired from the Chair’s research, new polyphenolic prebiotic extracts will be created, which will pave the way for the development of a new generation of products that will have a positive impact on the intestinal microbiome.

The research carried out within the Chair’s framework will allow a better understanding of the effects of new functional polyphenolic compounds on the intestinal microbiome and of the factors that determine the inter-individual variability of the microbiome and the diet components that favour the homeostasis of metabolic functions. Diana Food Canada will use the results of the Chair’s research to create new functional ingredients that will bring real benefits to human health. These advances will confirm the company’s global leadership in the field of fruit and vegetable processing and value addition The research will lead to the development of effective products that will improve the health of Canadians. The Chair’s research will also contribute to the country’s economic growth and to the sustainable development of Canadian resources by adding value to food processing by-products. It will consolidate and reinforce new research conducted at Université Laval on the intestinal microbiome and its role in prevention of metabolic diseases.


  • Diana Food Canada Inc.

Contact information

Science de l'agriculture et de l'alimentation
Université Laval


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