Disassembly and reassembly of polyhydroxyalkanoates: Recycling through abiotic depolymerization and biotic repolymerization

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Abstract

An abiotic-biotic strategy for recycling of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) is evaluated. Base-catalyzed PHA depolymerization yields hydroxyacids, such as 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB), and alkenoates, such as crotonate; catalytic thermal depolymerization yields alkenoates. Cyclic pulse addition of 3HB to triplicate bioreactors selected for an enrichment of Comamonas, Brachymonas and Acinetobacter. After each pulse, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (P3HB) transiently appeared: accumulation of P3HB correlated with hydrolysis of polyphosphate; consumption of P3HB correlated with polyphosphate synthesis. Cells removed from the cyclic regime and incubated with 3HB under nitrogen-limited conditions produced P3HB (molecular weight. >. 1,000,000. Da) at 50% of the cell dry weight (<8. h). P3HB also resulted from incubation with acetate, crotonate, or a mixture of hydrolytic depolymerization products. Poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid-co-3-hydroxyvaleric acid) (PHBV) resulted from incubation with valerate or 2-pentenoate. A recycling strategy where abiotic depolymerization of waste PHAs yields feedstock for customized PHA re-synthesis appears feasible, without the need for energy-intensive feedstock purification. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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Myung, J., Strong, N. I., Galega, W. M., Sundstrom, E. R., Flanagan, J. C. A., Woo, S. G., … Criddle, C. S. (2014). Disassembly and reassembly of polyhydroxyalkanoates: Recycling through abiotic depolymerization and biotic repolymerization. Bioresource Technology, 170, 167–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2014.07.105

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