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Microbial degradation of polyesters.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie der Universität Stuttgart, Allmandring 31, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany.


Polyesters, such as microbially produced poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyric acid] [poly(3HB)], other poly[(R)-hydroxyalkanoic acids] [poly(HA)] and related biosynthetic or chemosynthetic polyesters are a class of polymers that have potential applications as thermoplastic elastomers. In contrast to poly(ethylene) and similar polymers with saturated, non-functionalized carbon backbones, poly(HA) can be biodegraded to water, methane, and/or carbon dioxide. This review provides an overview of the microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology of poly(HA) biodegradation. In particular, the properties of extracellular and intracellular poly(HA) hydrolyzing enzymes [poly(HA) depolymerases] are described.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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