Polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis using different carbon sources by two enhanced biological phosphorus removal microbial communities

Maite Pijuan, Carles Casas, Juan Antonio Baeza

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    72 Citations (Scopus)


    Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is a biodegradable plastic synthesised by bacteria as energy and carbon storage material. PHA production is mostly based on pure cultures operated under sterile conditions, which increase the costs of this biopolymer. The use of inexpensive mixed culture biomass, such as activated sludge, to produce biodegradable plastics from renewable waste streams has been proposed as an alternative. The effect of carbon sources (acetate, propionate, butyrate and glucose) on the type and quantity of PHA synthesis obtained with different enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) microbial communities enriched with acetate and propionate are reported in this work. Two sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) were seeded with biomass withdrawn from a non-EBPR wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The same operational conditions were kept, but using acetate or propionate as the sole carbon source of each reactor. These conditions produced two microbial communities with different P-removal capacity. The results presented in this study show the effect of the carbon source on the PHA composition (amount of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), polyhydroxyvalerate (PHV) and polyhydroxy-2-methylvalerate (PH2MV)), which differed not just between substrates but also between the two EBPR communities used. In addition, some monomers not always analysed contribute significantly to the total amount of PHA, especially when using butyrate, showing that if they are not considered this can lead to erroneous calculated yields. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-105
    JournalProcess Biochemistry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


    • Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
    • Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)
    • Polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO)
    • Volatile fatty acid (VFA)


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