• Open Access

Polylactic acid (PLA)

An annotated selection of World Wide Web sites relevant to the topics in Environmental Microbiology


  • Lawrence P. Wackett

    1. McKnight Professor and Head
      Microbial Biochemistry and Biotechnology
      Department of Biochemistry
      Molecular Biology and Biophysics
      University of Minnesota
      St Paul, MN 55108, USA
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Polylactic acid: Wikipedia


This website provides an excellent overview of PLA as a polymer, its properties, and manufacture.

Biotech route to PLA


This web article describes the production of lactic acid from biomass by microbial fermentation coupled to a polymerization process to make PLA. The article is a bit dated and its industrial projections are now seen to be a bit over-optimistic.

NatureWorks LLC


NatureWorks is the company that started large-scale production of PLA via microbial biomass conversion several years ago. They are currently seeking to expand the market for uses of PLA.

Lamentations on chemistry: PLA


This web blog contains an interesting commentary on the chemistry of PLA production and the business side; including the pitfalls of involvement by a young chemist.

PLA products list


This webpage highlights commercial products made out of PLA.

Polylactic acid: Plastic Wiki


This webpage focuses on the polymerization of lactic acid and the resultant properties of the polymeric products.

Composting PLA


This web article describes a research study on composting PLA. PLA has been touted for its much greater biodegradability than comparable petroleum-based polymers such as polyethylene.

Extracellular PLA depolymerase


This article describes a PLA-degrading bacterium. It focuses on an extracellular enzyme from the bacterium that hydrolytically cleaves linkages in PLA.

UniProt: PLA depolymerase from metagenome


This webpage provides the protein sequence of a putative PLA depolymerase that is encoded by DNA from a metagenome sample.

Lactic acid: Wikipedia


Lactic acid is the precursor to PLA. It is widely used in foods and, increasingly, in polymer manufacture. It derives largely from industrial-scale microbial fermentations.



Hycail is a company making and marketing PLA and PLA products.

Chemistry to make PLA


This website provides an excellent primer on the PLA polymerization process.

Large-scale fermentation for PLA


This web article uses the PLA process as an example of large industrial fermentations.

Faerch Plast: PLA


This website contains some nice illustrations on how PLA is extruded or made into foils for use in consumer products.

EPA Green Chemistry: PLA


The development of PLA production from biomass won several awards including the EPA's Greener Reaction Conditions Award. This webpage discussed the importance of the PLA process.