Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 244–251 | Cite as

Biodegradability and biodegradation of poly(lactide)

  • Yutaka TokiwaEmail author
  • Buenaventurada P. Calabia


Poly(lactide) (PLA) has been developed and made commercially available in recent years. One of the major tasks to be taken before the widespread application of PLA is the fundamental understanding of its biodegradation mechanisms. This paper provides a short overview on the biodegradability and biodegradation of PLA. Emphasis is focused mainly on microbial and enzymatic degradation. Most of the PLA-degrading microorganisms phylogenetically belong to the family of Pseudonocardiaceae and related genera such as Amycolatopsis, Lentzea, Kibdelosporangium, Streptoalloteichus, and Saccharothrix. Several proteinous materials such as silk fibroin, elastin, gelatin, and some peptides and amino acids were found to stimulate the production of enzymes from PLA-degrading microorganisms. In addition to proteinase K from Tritirachium album, subtilisin, a microbial serine protease and some mammalian serine proteases such as α-chymotrypsin, trypsin, and elastase could also degrade PLA.


Poly(lactide) Biodegradability Biodegradation Amycolatopsis Protease Lipase 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)TsukubaJapan

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