, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 323–329 | Cite as

Degradation of microbial polyester poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) in environmental samples and in culture

  • Anupam Manna
  • A.K. Paul


Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) [P(3HB)] test-pieces prepared from the polymer produced by Azotobacter chroococcum were degraded in natural environments like soil, water, compost and sewage sludge incubated under laboratory conditions. Degradation in terms of % weight loss of the polymer was maximum (45%) in sewage sludge after 200 days of incubation at 30°C. The P(3HB)-degrading bacterial cultures (36) isolated from degraded test-pieces showed different degrees of degradation in polymer overlayer method. The extent of P(3HB) degradation increases up to 12 days of incubation and was maximum at 30°C for majority of the cultures. For most efficient cultures the optimum concentration of P(3HB) for degradation was 0.3% (w/v). Supplementation of soluble carbon sources like glucose, fructose and arabinose reduced the degradation while it was almost unaffected with lactose. Though the cultures degraded P(3HB) significantly, they were comparatively less efficient in utilizing copolymer of 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyvalerate [P(3HB-co-3HV)].

biodegradation microbial polyester poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brandl H, Gross RA, Lenz RW & Fuller RC (1990) Plastic frombacteria and for bacteria: poly(β-hydroxyalkanoates) as natural, biocompatible and biodegradable polyesters. Adv. Biochem.Eng. Biotechnol.41:77–93PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Brandl H & Püchner P (1992) Biodegradation of plastic bottlesmade from “Biopol” in an aquatic ecosystem under in situconditions. Biodegradation2:237–243Google Scholar
  3. Briese BH, Jendrossek D & Schlegel HG (1994) Degradationof poly(3–hydroxybutyrate-co-3–hydroxyvalerate) by aerobicsewage sludge. FEMS Microbial. Lett.117:101–111Google Scholar
  4. Chowdhury AA (1963) Poly-β-hydroxybuttersäure abbauende Bakterienund Exoenzym. Arch. Microbiol.47:167–200Google Scholar
  5. Delafield FP, Doudoroff N, Palleroni NJ, Lusty J & Contopoulos R(1965) Decomposition of polyβ-hydroxybutyrate by Pseudomonas. J. Bacteriol.90:1455–1466PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Doi Y (1990) Microbial polyesters. VCH Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Doi Y, Kanesawa Y & Tanahashi N (1992) Biodegradation of microbialpolyesters in the marine environments. Polym. Degrad.Stab.36:173–177Google Scholar
  8. Gilmore DF, Antoun S, Lenz RW, Goodwin S, Austin R & FullerRC (1992) The fate of “biodegradable” plastics in municipal leafcompost. J. Ind. Microbiol.10:199–206Google Scholar
  9. Holland SJ, Jolly AM, Yasin N & Tighe BJ (1987) Polymers forbiodegradable medical devices. Biomaterials8:289–295PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Jendrossek D, Knoke I, Habibian RH, Steinbuchel A & Schlegel HG (1993) Degradation of poly(3–hydroxybutyrate), PHB,by bacteria and purification of a novel PHB depolymerase of Comamonas sp. J. Environ. Polym. Degrad.1:53–63Google Scholar
  11. Jendrossek D, Schirmer A & Schlegel HG (1996) Biodegradationof polyhydroxyalkanoic acids. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 46:451–463PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Kimura M, Toyota K, Iwatsuki N & Sawada H (1994) Effectsof soil conditions on biodegradation of plastics and responsible microorganisms. In: Doi Y & Fukada K (Eds) Biodegradableplastics and polymers, (pp 92–106). Elsevier, Amsterdam, London, New York, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  13. Klingbeil B, Kroppenstedt R & Jendrossek D (1996) Taxonomicalidentification of Streptomyces exfoliatus K10 and characterizationof its poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) depolymerase gene. FEMSMicrobial. Lett.142:215–221Google Scholar
  14. Malik KA & Claus D (1978) A method for the demonstration of extracellular hydrolysis of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate. J. Appl.Bacteriol.45:143–146PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Manna A, Giri P & Paul AK (1999) Degradation of poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) by soil streptomycetes. W. J. Microbiol. Biotechnol.15: 705–709Google Scholar
  16. Matavulj N & Molitoris HP (1992) Fungal degradation ofpolyhydroxy-alkanoates and a semiquantitative assay for screeningtheir degradation by terrestrial fungi. FEMS Microbiol. Rev.103: 323–332Google Scholar
  17. Matavulj M, Moss ST & Molitoris HP (1993) Degradation of poly-β-hydroxyalkanoate based plastics in natural environments. In:Schlegel HG & Steinbuchel A (Eds) Proceedings of the InternationalSymposium on Bacterial Polyhydroxyalkanoates (pp465–466)Google Scholar
  18. McLellan DW & Halling PJ (1988) Acid-tolerant poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) hydrolases from moulds. FEMS Microbiol.Lett.52:215–218Google Scholar
  19. Mergaert J, Anderson C, Wouters A, Swings J & Kersters K (1992)Biodegradation of polyhydroxyalkanoates. FEMS Microbiol.Rev.103:317–322Google Scholar
  20. Mergaert J, Webb A, Anderson C, Wouters A & Swings J (1993)Microbial degradation of poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) and poly(3–hydroxybutyrate-co-3–hydroxyvalerate) in soils. Appl. Environ.Microbiol.59:3233–3238PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Mergaert J, Anderson C, Wouters A & Swings J (1994) Microbialdegradation of poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) and poly(3–hydroxybutyrate-co-3–hydroxyvalerate) in compost. J. Environ.Polym. Degrad.2:177–183Google Scholar
  22. Mergaert J, Wouters A & Swings J (1994) Estimation of the intrinsicbiodiversity among poly(3–hydroxyalkanoates) degrading streptomycetesusing gas chromatographic analysis of fatty acids. Syst. Appl. Microbiol.17:601–612Google Scholar
  23. Mergaert J, Wouters A, Anderson C & Swings J (1995) Insitu biodegradation of poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) and poly(3–hydroxybutyrate-co-3–hydroxyvalerate) in natural waters. Can. J. Microbiol. 41(Suppl 1): 154–159PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Miller ND & Williams DF (1987) On the biodegradationof poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) homopolymer and poly-β-hydroxybutyrate-hydroxyvalerate copolymers. Biomaterials 8:129–137PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Müller B & Jendrossek D (1993) Purification and properties ofpoly(3–hydroxyvaleric acid) depolymerase from Pseudomonaslemoignei. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol.38:487–492Google Scholar
  26. Nakayama K, Saito K, Fukui T, Shirakura Y & Tomita K(1985) Purification and properties of extracellular poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) depolymerases from Pseudomonas lemoignei. Biochem. Biophys. Acta827:63–72PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Nojima S, Mineki S & Iida M (1996) Purification and characterizationof extracellular poly(3–hydroxybutyrate)-depolymerasesproduced by Agrobacterium sp K-03. J. Ferment. Bioeng. 81:72–75Google Scholar
  28. Pagga U, Beimborn DB, Boelens J& De Wilde B (1995) Determinationof the aerobic biodegradability of polymeric materialin a laboratory controlled composting test. Chemosphere 31:4475–4487PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Pal S, Manna A & Paul AK (1998) Nutritional and cultural conditionsfor production of poly-3–hydroxybutyric acid by Azotobacterchroococcum. Folia Microbiol.43:177–181Google Scholar
  30. Schirmer A, Jendrossek D & Schlegel HG (1993) Degradation ofpoly(3–hydroxyoctanoic acid) [P(3HO)] by bacteria: purificationand properties of a P(3HO) depolymerase from Pseudomonasfluorescens GK13. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.59:1220–1227PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Shirakura Y, Fukui T, Tanio T, Nakayema K, Matsuno R & Tomita K (1983) An extracellular D(-)3–hydroxybutyrate oligomer hydrolasefrom Alcaligenes faecalis. Biochem. Biophys. Acta 748:331–339PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Shirakura Y, Fukui T, Saito T, Okamoto Y, Narikawa T, Koide K, Tomita K, Takemasa T & Massamune S (1986) Degradationof poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) by depolymerase from Alcaligenesfaecalis T1. Biochem. Biophys. Acta880:46–53PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Steinbüchel A (1991) Polyhydroxyalkanoic acids. In: Byrom D (Ed) Biomaterials (pp 123–213). Macmillan, Basingstoke, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Tanio T, Fukui T, Shirakura Y, Saito T, Tomita K & Kaiho T(1982) An extracellular poly(3–hydroxybutyrate) depolymerase from Alcaligenes faecalis. Eur. J. Biochem.124:71–77PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Yamada K, Mukai K & Doi Y (1993) Enzymatic degradation of poly(hydroxyalkanoates) by Pseudomonas pickettii. Int. J. Biol.Macromol.15:215–220PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anupam Manna
    • 1
  • A.K. Paul
    • 2
  1. 1.Microbiology Laboratory, Department of BotanyUniversity of CalcuttaCalcutta-India
  2. 2.Microbiology Laboratory, Department of BotanyUniversity of CalcuttaCalcutta-India. e-mail

Personalised recommendations