Can Polyhydroxyalkanoates Be Produced Efficiently From Waste Plant and Animal Oils?

Arthy Surendran, Manoj Lakshmanan, Jiun Yee Chee, Azlinah Mohd Sulaiman, Doan Van Thuoc, Kumar Sudesh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a potential replacement for some petrochemical-based plastics. PHAs are polyesters synthesized and stored by various bacteria and archaea in their cytoplasm as water-insoluble inclusions. PHAs are usually produced when the microbes are cultured with nutrient-limiting concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, or oxygen and excess carbon sources. Such fermentation conditions have been optimized by industry to reduce the cost of PHAs produced commercially. Industrially, these biodegradable polyesters are derived from microbial fermentation processes utilizing various carbon sources. One of the major constraints in scaling-up PHA production is the cost of the carbon source metabolized by the microorganisms. Hence, cheap and renewable carbon substrates are currently being investigated around the globe. Plant and animal oils have been demonstrated to be excellent carbon sources for high yield production of PHAs. Waste streams from oil mills or the used oils, which are even cheaper, are also used. This approach not only reduces the production cost for PHAs, but also makes a significant contribution toward the reduction of environmental pollution caused by the used oil. Advancements in the genetic and metabolic engineering of bacterial strains have enabled a more efficient utilization of various carbon sources, in achieving high PHA yields with specified monomer compositions. This review discusses recent developments in the biosynthesis and classification of various forms of PHAs produced using crude and waste oils from the oil palm and fish industries. The biodegradability of the PHAs produced from these oils will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Publication statusFirst published - 17 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • animal oil
  • biocompatible
  • enzymatic degradation
  • metabolic engineering
  • plant oil
  • polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)
  • polyoxoester


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