Progress toward biologically produced Biodegradable Thermoplastics

Authors

  • Dr. Yves Poirier,

    1. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1312 (USA)
    Search for more papers by this author
    • studied biology at McGill University, Canada, and received his Ph.D. in 1989 for work on the molecular biology of retroviruses with Prof. P. Jolicoeur. He then started postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Prof. C. Somerville on the genetic engineering of polyhydroxybutyrate production in plants. His research interests include the alteration of plant metabolism for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoates and the study of genes involved in mineral uptake in plants.

  • Prof. Douglas E. Dennis,

    1. Department of Biology, James Madison University Harrisonbure, VA 22807 (USA)
    Search for more papers by this author
    • was born in Adrian, Michigan, USA, where he obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology at Adrian College. His Ph.D. degree in Microbiology (University of Tennessee, 1980) and his postdoctoral studies (McMaster University Medical Center, Canada) focused on transcriptional regulation in viral systems. He has been a professor in the Department of Biology at James Madison University since 1984. His primary research interest is in the molecular characterization of the bacterial polyhydroxybutyrate biosynthesis pathway.

  • Dr. Christiane Nawrath,

    1. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1312 (USA)
    Search for more papers by this author
    • studied biochemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin, FRG. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1991 for work on the molecular biology of the transcriptional apparatus of plants with Prof. Jeff Schell at the Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung, Cologne. She then started postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Prof. C. Somerville. Her research interests are focused on the improvement of polyhydroxybutyrate production in plants and on the biosynthesis of cutin, a plant biopolymer synthesized from fatty acid precurosors.

  • Prof. Chris Somerville

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1312 (USA)
    • Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1312 (USA)
    Search for more papers by this author
    • studied bacterial genetics at the University of Alberta, Canada, and received his Ph.D. in 1978 for work on the regulation of transcription of amino acid biosynthetic genes with Prof. A. Ahmed. Following three years of postdoctoral studies with Prof. W. Ogren at the University of Illinois, he moved to the Genetics Department, University of Alberta, Canada. In 1982 he moved to the U.S. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory at Michigan State University, where he is a professor of Botany and Genetics.


Abstract

Genetically-engineered bacteria which produce biodegradable polymers and copolymers with structures which depend on the culture in which they are kept are receiving increasing attention. Up to 90% of the dry weight of the bacteria can be intracellular granules of the plastic (see Figure), and the properties of the polymers can be controlled by varying the carbon-based nutrition of the bacteria. Recent advances are reviewed, including the use of plants instead of bacteria.

original image

Ancillary