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J Biosci Bioeng. 2002;94(6):579-84.

Metabolic improvements and use of inexpensive carbon sources in microbial production of polyhydroxyalkanoates.

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  • 1Department of Innovative and Engineered Materials, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8502, Japan.


This paper deals with the microbial production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), biodegradable thermoplastics which perform excellently as a material, from inexpensive renewable carbon sources. To date, with the help of genetic engineering techniques, it has become possible to design several types of PHAs with different compositions and to enhance the productivities of PHAs. In addition, molecular breeding of PHA biosynthesis enzymes has been demonstrated to improve polymer production. Mutant PHA synthases generated by an in vitro evolution technique have allowed the enhanced production and quality alteration of PHAs. Furthermore, use of inexpensive renewable carbon sources, such as plant oils, waste materials, and carbon dioxide, would be a key for a reduction in PHA production cost.

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