Challenges for Utilizing Inexpensive Agro-Food Wastes for the Microbial Production of Polyhydroxyalkanoates

Dimitrios I. Avgoulas, Christos P. Papaneophytou, Eleftherios G. Halevas, Ekaterini E. Velali, Anastasia A. Pantazaki

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


The disposal of petroleum-based plastics is a major global problem, while the production of bioplastics represents <1% of the world’s plastic production. Microbially produced polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are among the most well-studied biopolymers and exhibit excellent physicochemical properties (nontoxic comportment, cell biocompatibility, and biodegradability) which provide them distinguished properties to be potential candidates for industrial applications, especially in medicinal and pharmaceutical domains. However, the production of PHAs at an industrial level is significantly higher (>5 times) compared to that of petroleum-derived plastics. A major drawback of PHA production at large scales is the cost of carbon sources for PHA-producing microbes. One potential option to reduce the production cost of microbial-derived PHAs by more than 40% is to use agro-food wastes (AFWs) as a carbon substrate. The accumulation of AFW from industrial food processing is a global problem, and therefore they harbor the potential to create products of high-added value. AFWs, an abundant commodity reservoir, can serve as a pool of valuable ingredients and carbon substrates for the growth of microorganisms and the production of biodegradable PHAs. To this end “microbial cell factories” could be recruited to solve two global problems i.e., the accumulation of AFW and the high production cost of biopolymers including PHAs. This chapter aims to summarize the state of the art of converting AFW into carbon substrates to produce PHAs using microbes and identify key prospects in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrobial Bioprocessing of Agri-Food Wastes
Subtitle of host publicationIndustrial Applications
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages50
ISBN (Electronic)9781000838008
ISBN (Print)9780367625405
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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