Effect of carbon source on the formation of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) by a phosphate-accumulating mixed culture

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In the present work, attention was devoted to understand how different carbon substrates and their concentration can influence the production of PHA by polyphosphate-accumulating bacteria. Acetate, propionate, and butyrate were tested independently. The composition of the polymers formed was found to vary with the substrate used. Acetate leads to the production of a copolymer of hydroxybutyrate (HB) and hydroxyvalerate (HV) with the HB units being dominant. With propionate, HV units are mainly produced and only a small amount of HB is synthesized. When butyrate is used, the amount of polymer formed is much lower with the HB units being produced to a higher extent. The yield of polymer produced per carbon consumed (Y(P/S)) was found to diminish from acetate (0.97) to propionate (0.61) to butyrate (0.21). Using a mixture of acetate, propionate, and butyrate and increasing the carbon concentration, although maintaining the relative concentration of each substrate, propionate is primarily consumed and consequently, PHA synthesized was enriched in HV units. The polymers obtained in all experiments were copolymers with the average molecular weight of the most representative fraction higher when hydroxybutyrate units were present in considerable amounts. All the polymers synthesized were found to be quite homogeneous and their average molecular weight is of the same order of magnitude as the ones commercially available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-671
Number of pages10
JournalEnzyme And Microbial Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1998


  • Activated sludge
  • Biological phosphorus removal
  • Carbon source
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Polymer characterization


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