Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a class of biopolymers with numerous applications, but the high cost of production has prevented their use. To reduce this cost, there is a prospect for strains with a high PHA production and the ability to grow in low-cost by-products. In this context, the objective of this work was to evaluate marine bacteria capable of producing PHA. Using Nile red, 30 organisms among 155 were identified as PHA producers in the medium containing starch, and 27, 33, 22 and 10 strains were found to be positive in media supplemented with carboxymethyl cellulose, glycerol, glucose and Tween 80, respectively. Among the organisms studied, two isolates, LAMA 677 and LAMA 685, showed strong potential to produce PHA with the use of glycerol as the carbon source, and were selected for further studies. In the experiment used to characterize the growth kinetics, LAMA 677 presented a higher maximum specific growth rate (µmax = 0.087 h-1) than LAMA 685 (µmax = 0.049 h-1). LAMA 677 also reached a D-3-hydroxybutyrate (P(3HB)) content of 78.63% (dry biomass), which was 3.5 times higher than that of LAMA 685. In the assay of the production of P(3HB) from low-cost substrates (seawater and biodiesel waste glycerol), LAMA 677 reached a polymer content of 31.7%, while LAMA 685 reached 53.6%. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the selected marine strains have the potential to produce PHA, and seawater and waste glycerol may be alternative substrates for the production of this polymer.
Keywords: biopolymer; deep sea; seawater; waste glycerol.