, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 377-385

Production of polyhydroxyalkanoates by mixed microbial cultures

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Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable bioplastics formed from renewable resources, like sugars, with similar characteristics of polypropylene. These bioplastics are industrially produced by pure cultures using expensive pure substrates. These factors lead to a much higher selling price of PHAs compared to petroleum-based plastics, like polypropylene. The use of mixed cultures and cheap substrates (waste materials) can reduce costs of PHA production by more than 50%. Storage of PHAs by mixed populations occurs under transient conditions mainly caused by discontinuous feeding and variation in the electron donor/acceptor presence. In the last years the mechanisms of storage, metabolism and kinetics of mixed cultures have been studied. The maximum capacity of PHA storage and production rate is dependent on the substrate and on the operating conditions used. In this paper an overview and discussion of various mechanisms and processes for PHA production by mixed cultures is presented.