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Abstract

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are carbon and energy reserve material accumulated by numerous microorganisms and have been drawing much attention as biodegradable substitutes for conventional nondegradable plastics and elastomers. There are a number of different PHAs having a variety of material properties based on the different monomer composition. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) and poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) are now efficiently produced by bacterial fermentation at reasonable production costs. Recent advances in the production of short-chain-length (SCL) PHAs by bacterial fermentation are reviewed. Current status of the production of medium-chain-length (MCL) PHAs and SCL-MCL-PHA copolymers is also reviewed.