Engineering Bacterial Biocatalysts for the Production of Polyhydroxyalkanaote Biopolymers
Poly-3-hydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable polyesters produced by some bacteria as a carbon and energy from renewable resources. PHAs have attracted great interest as environmentally friendly replacements of petroleum-based plastics and have potential applications as bulk-commodity plastics and biomaterials for biomedical use. The physical properties of PHA polymers are dictated by their repeating unit composition and can be divided into three main classes: short-chain-length (SCL) PHA polymers are made up of repeating units of 3-5 carbons and exhibit thermoplastic properties, medium-chain-length (MCL) PHA polymers are made up of repeating units of 6-14 carbons and exhibit elastomeric properties and SCL-MCL PHA copolymers that exhibit a range of physical properties dependent on the mol ratio of SCL to MCL repeating units in the polymer. Our lab is interested in understanding what metabolic pathways in bacteria are used to generate PHA polymers. In this presentation, I will discuss some of the new pathways and methods we have designed to produce PHAs in bacteria and explore some new applications.