Plastics from Bacteria

Volume 14 of the series Microbiology Monographs pp 17-37


Plastics Completely Synthesized by Bacteria: Polyhydroxyalkanoates

  • Guo-Qiang ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Tsinghua University Email author 


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) produced by many bacteria have been investigated by microbiologists, molecular biologists, biochemists, chemical engineers, chemists, polymer experts, and medical researchers over the past many years. Applications of PHA as bioplastics, fine chemicals, implant biomaterials, medicines, and biofuels have been developed. Companies have been established or involved in PHA-related R&D as well as large-scale production. PHA synthesis has been found to improve the robustness of non-PHA-producing microorganisms and to regulate bacterial metabolism, leading to yield improvement for some bacterial fermentation products. In addition, amphiphilic proteins related to PHA synthesis including PhaP, PhaZ, and PhaC have been found to be useful for achieving protein purification and even specific drug targeting. It has become clear that PHA and its related technologies are forming an industrial value chain ranging from fermentation, materials, and energy to medical fields.