Production and Properties of Microbial Polyhydroxyalkanoates Synthesized from Hydrolysates of Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers and Vegetative Biomass

Volova, Tatiana G.; Kiselev, Evgeniy G.; Demidenko, Alexey V.; Zhila, Natalia O.; Nemtsev, Ivan V.; et al.// Polymers//

One of the major challenges in PHA biotechnology is optimization of biotechnological processes of the entire synthesis, mainly by using new inexpensive carbon substrates. A promising substrate for PHA synthesis may be the sugars extracted from the Jerusalem artichoke. In the present study, hydrolysates of Jerusalem artichoke (JA) tubers and vegetative biomass were produced and used as carbon substrate for PHA synthesis. The hydrolysis procedure (the combination of aqueous extraction and acid hydrolysis, process temperature and duration) influenced the content of reducing substances (RS), monosaccharide contents, and the fructose/glucose ratio. All types of hydrolysates tested as substrates for cultivation of three strains—C. necator B-10646 and R. eutropha B 5786 and B 8562—were suitable for PHA synthesis, producing different biomass concentrations and polymer contents. The most productive process, conducted in 12-L fermenters, was achieved on hydrolysates of JA tubers (X = 66.9 g/L, 82% PHA) and vegetative biomass (55.1 g/L and 62% PHA) produced by aqueous extraction of sugars at 80 °C followed by acid hydrolysis at 60 °C, using the most productive strain, C. necator B-10646. The effects of JA hydrolysates on physicochemical properties of PHAs were studied for the first time. P(3HB) specimens synthesized from the JA hydrolysates, regardless of the source (tubers or vegetative biomass), hydrolysis conditions, and PHA producing strain employed, exhibited the 100–120 °C difference between the Tmelt and Tdegr, prevailing of the crystalline phase over the amorphous one (Cx between 69 and 75%), and variations in weight average molecular weight (409–480) kDa. Supplementation of the culture medium of C. necator B-10646 grown on JA hydrolysates with potassium valerate and ε-caprolactone resulted in the synthesis of P(3HB-co-3HV) and P(3HB-co-4HB) copolymers that had decreased degrees of crystallinity and molecular weights, which influenced the porosity and surface roughness of polymer films prepared from them. The study shows that JA hydrolysates used as carbon source enabled productive synthesis of PHAs, comparable to synthesis from pure sugars. The next step is to scale up PHA synthesis from JA hydrolysates and conduct the feasibility study. The present study contributes to the solution of the critical problem of PHA biotechnology—finding widely available and inexpensive substrates.