Community Structure Evolution and Enrichment of Glycogen-Accumulating Organisms Producing Polyhydroxyalkanoates from Fermented Molasses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


An open mixed culture was enriched with glycogen-accumulating organisms (GAOs) by using a sequencing batch reactor and treating an agroindustrial waste (sugar cane molasses) under cyclic anaerobic-aerobic conditions. Over a 1-year operating period, the culture exhibited a very stable GAO phenotype with an average polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) content of 17% total suspended solids. However, the GAO microbial community evolved over the course of operation to a culture exhibiting unusual characteristics in producing PHAs comprised of short-chain-length monomers, namely, 3-hydroxybutyrate, 3-hydroxy-2- methylbutyrate, 3-hydroxyvalerate, and 3-hydroxy-2- methylvalerate, and also, up to 31 mol% of the medium-chain-length (MCL) monomer 3-hydroxyhexanoate (3HHx). Microbial community analysis by fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed a concurrent long-term drift in the GAO community balance, from mainly "Candidatus Competibacter phosphatis" to mainly Defluviicoccus vanus-related organisms. The production of 3HHx was confirmed by C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and appeared to be related to the increased presence of D. vanus-related GAOs. These results suggest a broadened spectrum of material, chemical, and mechanical properties that can be achieved for biopolymers produced by open mixed cultures from fermented waste. The increased spectrum of polymer properties brings a wider scope of potential applications.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)4676-4686
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Cite this