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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1988 Dec;54(12):2924-32.

Formation of Polyesters by Pseudomonas oleovorans: Effect of Substrates on Formation and Composition of Poly-(R)-3-Hydroxyalkanoates and Poly-(R)-3-Hydroxyalkenoates.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Groningen Biotechnology Center, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 16, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands.


Pseudomonas oleovorans grows on C(6) to C(12)n-alkanes and 1-alkenes. These substrates are oxidized to the corresponding fatty acids, which are oxidized further via the beta-oxidation pathway, yielding shorter fatty acids which have lost one or more C(2) units. P. oleovorans normally utilizes beta-oxidation pathway intermediates for growth, but in this paper we show that the intermediate 3-hydroxy fatty acids can also be polymerized to intracellular poly-(R)-3-hydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) when the medium contains limiting amounts of essential elements, such as nitrogen. The monomer composition of these polyesters is a reflection of the substrates used for growth of P. oleovorans. The largest monomer found in PHAs always contained as many C atoms as did the n-alkane used as a substrate. Monomers which were shorter by one or more C(2) units were also observed. Thus, for C-even substrates, only C-even monomers were found, the smallest being (R)-3-hydroxyhexanoate. For C-odd substrates, only C-odd monomers were found, with (R)-3-hydroxyheptanoate as the smallest monomer. 1-Alkenes were also incorporated into PHAs, albeit less efficiently and with lower yields than n-alkanes. These PHAs contained both saturated and unsaturated monomers, apparently because the 1-alkene substrates could be oxidized to carboxylic acids at either the saturated or the unsaturated ends. Up to 55% of the PHA monomers contained terminal double bonds when P. oleovorans was grown on 1-alkenes. The degree of unsaturation of PHAs could be modulated by varying the ratio of alkenes to alkanes in the growth medium. Since 1-alkenes were also shortened before being polymerized, as was the case for n-alkanes, copolymers which varied with respect to both monomer chain length and the percentage of terminal double bonds were formed during nitrogen-limited growth of P. oleovorans on 1-alkenes. Such polymers are expected to be useful for future chemical modifications.

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