Polyhydroxyalkanoates

Microbial cell factory – Proof of concept strain

Polyhydroxyalkanoates

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are polyesters produced by microorganisms as means of carbon storage and energy source. Outside of the microbial cell, they form into materials with a huge variety in (mechanical) properties. Simply put, PHAs are natural plastics with one massive benefit over our chemically synthesized plastics: they are fully biodegradable. In other words, since they originate from nature, nature also has the means to fully break them down again.

All of this has been known for decades and there are several industrial producers of PHAs. Yet PHAs are not widely used, for no other reason than they are simply too expensive to replace plastics. Each purpose requires a specific set of material properties, and obtaining a material with those properties through fermentation is a lengthy process of trial and error. Moreover, it has proven extremely difficult to get microbes to produce a specific type of PHA with said desired properties, rather than a mixture of PHAs with mixed properties.

EV’s PHAs: As designer and developer of microbial cell factories, we at EV see it as our duty to put our expertise to use in the fight against synthetic, non-degradable plastics. We apply our computational pipeline to create microorganisms that selectively and purely produce one type of PHA. As proof-of-concept, we have developed a PHB(polyhydroxybutyrate)-producing microbial strain and will continue development of other PHA producers.

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