Mixed Culture Processes for Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production from Agro-Industrial Surplus/Wastes as Feedstocks

M. Reis, M. Albuquerque, M. Villano, M. Majone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a group of biologically synthesized polyesters that are considered promising eco-efficient bioplastics because they are both biobased and biodegradable, thus meeting the criteria of a closed loop life cycle. In the past decades, industrial biotechnology has devoted a considerable effort to PHA production by bacterial pure culture fermentation. However, PHAs have not yet entered bulk materials markets due to high production costs. The combined use of mixed microbial cultures (MMCs) and low-value feedstocks is currently under investigation in order to decrease operating costs. For the sake of enhanced PHA production, mixed cultures have to be preliminarily enriched in PHA-accumulating organisms. This is usually carried out under dynamic feeding of suitable carbon sources to create transient conditions of excess and lack of carbon availability, designated as feast and famine. PHA production is then usually carried out in a subsequent PHA accumulation stage. To make waste- and surplus-based feedstocks suitable for PHA production, acidogenic fermentation is used to convert their organic fraction into volatile fatty acids, which are viable precursors for mixed culture PHA synthesis. The main issues of the three-stage PHA production process from surplus-based feedstocks using MMCs are here described and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Biotechnology and Safety
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780080885049
ISBN (Print)9780444533524
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2011


  • Acidogenic fermentation
  • Aerobic dynamic conditions
  • Agro-industrial surplus/wastes
  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Carbon storage
  • Mixed microbial cultures
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Sequencing batch reactor
  • Volatile fatty acids


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