, Volume 75, Issue 6, pp 1241-1247
Date: 25 Apr 2007

Biosynthesis, properties and potential of natural–synthetic hybrids of polyhydroxyalkanoates and polyethylene glycols

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Chemical conjugation with poly(ethylene glycols) (PEGs) are established procedures to facilitate solubilisation of hydrophobic compounds. Such techniques for PEGylation have been applied to polyhydroxybutyrate. ‘BioPEGylation’ of such polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) to form natural–synthetic hybrids has been demonstrated through the addition of PEGs to microbial cultivation systems. The strategic addition of certain PEGs not only supports hybrid synthesis but may also provide a technique for control of PHA composition and molecular mass, and by extension, their physico-mechanical properties. PHA composition and molecular mass control by PEGs is dependent upon the polyethers’ molecular mass, loading in the cultivation system, time of introduction and microbial species. Hybrid characterisation studies are in their infancy, but results to date suggest that PHA–PEG hybrids have subtle, but significant, differences in their physiochemical and material properties as a consequence of the PEGylation.