Accumulation of polyhydroxyalkanoates by Microlunatus phosphovorus under various growth conditions

J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2006 Mar;33(3):215-20. doi: 10.1007/s10295-004-0201-2. Epub 2005 Jan 20.


Microlunatus phosphovorus is an activated-sludge bacterium with high levels of phosphorus-accumulating activity and phosphate uptake and release activities. Thus, it is an interesting model organism to study biological phosphorus removal. However, there are no studies demonstrating the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) storage capability of M. phosphovorus, which is surprising for a polyphosphate-accumulating organism. This study investigates in detail the PHA storage behavior of M. phosphovorus under different growth conditions and using different carbon sources. Pure culture studies in batch-growth systems were conducted in shake-flasks and in a bioreactor, using chemically defined growth media with glucose as the sole carbon source. A batch-growth system with anaerobic-aerobic cycles and varying concentrations of glucose or acetate as the sole carbon source, similar to enhanced biological phosphorus removal processes, was also employed. The results of this study demonstrate for the first time that M. phosphovorus produces significant amounts of PHAs under various growth conditions and with different carbon sources. When the PHA productions of all cultivations were compared, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), the major PHA polymer, was produced at about 20-30% of the cellular dry weight. The highest PHB production was observed as 1,421 mg/l in batch-growth systems with anaerobic-aerobic cycles and at 4 g/l initial glucose concentration. In light of these key results regarding the growth physiology and PHA-production capability of M. phosphovorus, it can be concluded that this organism could be a good candidate for microbial PHA production because of its advantages of easy growth, high biomass and PHB yield on substrate and no significant production of fermentative byproducts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid / metabolism
  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates / metabolism*
  • Propionibacteriaceae / growth & development
  • Propionibacteriaceae / metabolism*


  • Culture Media
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Glucose
  • Acetic Acid