Bacterial production of the biodegradable plastics polyhydroxyalkanoates

Viviana Urtuvia, Pamela Villegas, Myriam González, Michael Seeger
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 2014, 70: 208-13
Petroleum-based plastics constitute a major environmental problem due to their low biodegradability and accumulation in various environments. Therefore, searching for novel biodegradable plastics is of increasing interest. Microbial polyesters known as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable plastics. Life cycle assessment indicates that PHB is more beneficial than petroleum-based plastics. In this report, bacterial production of PHAs and their industrial applications are reviewed and the synthesis of PHAs in Burkholderia xenovorans LB400 is described. PHAs are synthesized by a large number of microorganisms during unbalanced nutritional conditions. These polymers are accumulated as carbon and energy reserve in discrete granules in the bacterial cytoplasm. 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyvalerate are two main PHA units among 150 monomers that have been reported. B. xenovorans LB400 is a model bacterium for the degradation of polychlorobiphenyls and a wide range of aromatic compounds. A bioinformatic analysis of LB400 genome indicated the presence of pha genes encoding enzymes of pathways for PHA synthesis. This study showed that B. xenovorans LB400 synthesize PHAs under nutrient limitation. Staining with Sudan Black B indicated the production of PHAs by B. xenovorans LB400 colonies. The PHAs produced were characterized by GC-MS. Diverse substrates for the production of PHAs in strain LB400 were analyzed.

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