Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biomacromolecules. 2005 Jan-Feb;6(1):1-8.

Bacterial polyesters: biosynthesis, biodegradable plastics and biotechnology.

Author information

  • 1Polymer Science & Engineering Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003-4530, USA.


The discovery and chemical identification, in the 1920s, of the aliphatic polyester: poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), PHB, as a granular component in bacterial cells proceeded without any of the controversies which marked the recognition of macromolecules by Staudinger. Some thirty years after its discovery, PHB was recognized as the prototypical biodegradable thermoplastic to solve the waste disposal challenge. The development effort led by Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd., encouraged interdisciplinary research from genetic engineering and biotechnology to the study of enzymes involved in biosynthesis and biodegradation. From the simple PHB homopolyester discovered by Maurice Lemoigne in the mid-twenties, a family of over 100 different aliphatic polyesters of the same general structure has been discovered. Depending on bacterial species and substrates, these high molecular weight stereoregular polyesters have emerged as a new family of natural polymers ranking with nucleic acids, polyamides, polyisoprenoids, polyphenols, polyphosphates, and polysaccharides. In this historical review, the chemical, biochemical and microbial highlights are linked to personalities and locations involved with the events covering a discovery timespan of 75 years.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Chemical Society
    Loading ...
    Support Center