Biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles and polyhydroxybutyrate nanocomposites of interest in antimicrobial applications

J. L. Castro-Mayorga, F. Freitas, M. A.M. Reis, M. A. Prieto, J. M. Lagaron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This study deals with the optimization and scaling up of the production of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), PHB, nanocomposites containing biosynthesized silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) to generate materials with antimicrobial performance. First, a comparative study of the chemical and biological synthesis of AgNPs during the fermentation process of Cupriavidus necator at shake flask-scale was carried out. These experiments demonstrated the inherent capacity of C. necator to reduce the silver salt and produce AgNPs without the need for adding a reducing agent and, that the method of synthesis (with or without reducing agent) affects the dispersion of the AgNPs and their antimicrobial performance. Finally, the process was scaled-up to a 10 Liters bioreactor and the relevant physical properties of the PHB-AgNPs nanocomposites pressed into films were determined. From the characterization work, the AgNPs were found to be well dispersed and distributed into the polymer matrix, having a maximum frequency of particles with average diameter of 76–95 nm. Moreover, the presence of AgNPs did not cause any effect on the thermal properties of the biopolymer, although a slight reduction in crystallinity was seen. The developed materials presented a strong antimicrobial activity against the food-borne pathogens Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes, which makes them potentially suitable for active coatings and packaging applications. Complete biodisintegration of the samples occurred during composting conditions within the first 40 days. Interestingly, the presence of the AgNPs did not impair the profile of biodegradation of the microbial polymer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-435
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Antibacterial
  • Films
  • Metal nanoparticles
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates


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