Applications of PHA in Agriculture

  • Tan Suet May Amelia
  • Sharumathiy Govindasamy
  • Arularasu Muthaliar Tamothran
  • Sevakumaran Vigneswari
  • Kesaven BhubalanEmail author


Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is a well-known biodegradable bacterial polymer. The polymer is produced by some bacteria under stressed growth conditions. In nature, poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) [P(3HB)] is the most commonly found. Nonetheless, research in PHA has resulted in the production of various copolymers with improved properties and modifications to suit a variety of different applications. Identification of new bacteria strains with the ability to produce novel PHA monomers are still on going. Various cheap and renewable carbon feedstock and growth media have been identified. The production of in PHA in industrial scale fermenters have been fine-tuned using statistical approach. The production efficiency of PHA is still being experimented in order to achieve maximum yield with minimal cost. Among the different applications of PHA, much attention was gained in medical and pharmaceutical fields. This is mainly attributed to the biocompatibility of PHA. However, studies in the application of PHA in agriculture is rather limited. This chapter will survey the efforts of PHA application in agriculture and highlight the successful usage of PHA.


Polyhydoxyalkanoates Agriculture Bioplastics Biowastes By-products Films 


  1. Adane L, Muleta D (2011) Survey on the usage of plastic bags, their disposal and adverse effects on environment: a case study in Jimma City, Southwestern Ethiopia. J Toxicol Environ Health Sci 3:234–248 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  2. Aldrete A, Mexal JG, Phillips R, Nallotton AD (2002) Copper coated polybags improves seedling morphology for two nursery-grown Mexican pine species. Forest Ecol Manag 163:197–204. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alvarez VM, Baille A, Martinez JMM, Gonzalez-Real MM (2006) Effect of black polyethylene shade covers on the evaporation rate of agricultural reservoirs. Span J Agric Res 4:280–288. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrews M (2014) Mirel™ PHA polymeric modifiers & additives. In: Proceeding from AddCom 2014 conference, Novotel Barcelona, Spain, October 21–22. Retrieved from
  5. Angaji MT, Hagheeghatpadjooh HR (2004) Preparation of biodegradable low density polyethylene by starch urea composition for agricultural applications. Iran J Chem Chem Eng 23:7–11 Google Scholar
  6. Aslan A, Ali M, Morad N, Tamunaidu P (2016) Polyhydroxyalkanoates production from waste biomass. IOP Conf Ser Earth Environ Sci 36:012040. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ASTM (The American Society for Testing & Materials) (1998) D883-96: standard terminology relating to plastics. ASTM, New York Retrieved from Google Scholar
  8. Azemi M, Rashid N, Saidin J, Effendy A, Bhubalan K (2016) Application of sweetwater as potential carbon source for rhamnolipid production by marine Pseudomonas aeruginosa UMTKB-5. Int J Biosci Biochem Bioinforma 6:50–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barnes DK, Galgani F, Thompson RC, Barlaz M (2009) Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments. Philos Trans R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 364:1985–1998. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. BASF SE (2013) U.S. Patent No. US2013029124 A1. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. Bilck AP, Olivato JB, Yamashita F, de Souza JRP (2014) Biodegradable bags for the production of plant seedlings. Polimeros 24:547–553. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown RP (2004) Polymers in agriculture and horticulture. Rapra Technology, Shawbury Retrieved from Google Scholar
  13. Castellano S, Mugnozza GS, Russo G, Briassoulis D, Mistriotis A, Hemming S, Waaijenberg D (2008) J Agric Eng 39:31–42 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  14. Cedamon ED, Mangaoang EO, Gregorio NO, Pasa AE, Herbohn JL (2005) Nursery management in relation to root deformation, sowing and shading. Ann Trop Res 27:1–10 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  15. Chanprateep S (2010) Current trends in biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates. J Biosci Bioeng 110:621–632. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crompton TR (2012) Mechanical properties of polymers. Physical testing of plastics. Smithers Rapra, Shropshire, pp 1–148Google Scholar
  17. Danimer Scientific (2018a) Danimer scientific film resins. Retrieved from
  18. Danimer Scientific (2018b) Danimer scientific history. Retrieved from
  19. Doi Y, Kitamaru S, Abe H (1995) Microbial synthesis and characterization of poly(3-hydroxybutrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoates). Macromolecules 28:4822–4828. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Donald DGM (1968) Planting of trees in polythene bags. S Afr For J 67:28–29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gouda M, Swellam A, Omar S (2001) Production of PHB by a Bacillus megaterium strain using sugarcane molasses and corn steep liquor as sole carbon and nitrogen sources. Microbiol Res 156:201–207. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gowda V, Shivakumar S (2014) Agrowaste-based polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production using hydrolytic potential of Bacillus thuringiensis IAM 12077. Braz Arch Biol Technol 57:55–61. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greenpoly Co Ltd (2005) Biodegradable resin. Retrieved from
  24. Guerrini S, Borreani G, Voojis H (2017) Biodegradable materials in agriculture: case histories and perspectives. In: Malinconico M (ed) Soil degradable bioplastics for a sustainable modern agriculture. Springer, Germany. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Halami P (2008) Production of polyhydroxyalkanoate from starch by the native isolate Bacillus cereus CFR06. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 24:805–812. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hassan MK, Abou-Hussein R, Zhang X, Mark JE, Noda I (2006) Biodegradable copolymers of 3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate (NodaxTM), including recent improvements in their mechanical properties. Mol Cryst Liq Cryst 447:23–341. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Havens KJ, Bilkovic DM, Stanhope DM, Angstadt KT (2014) U.S. Patent No. US 20140245655 A1. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  28. Hiraishi A, Khan ST (2003) Application of polyhydroxyalkanoates for denitrification in water and wastewater treatment. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 61:103–109. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Hodges H (2018) How rest of world still puts us to shame: France was the first country to ban plastic plates, cutlery and cups. Daily Mail. Retrieved from
  30. Huang JC, Shetty AS, Wang MS (1990) Biodegradable plastics: a review. Adv Polym Technol 10:23–30. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Iwata T, Aoyagi Y, Fujita M, Yamane H, Doi Y, Suzuki Y, Takeuchi A, Uesugi K (2004) Processing of a strong biodegradable poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] fiber and a new fiber structure revealed by micro-beam X-ray diffraction with synchrotron radiation. Macromol Rapid Commun 25:1100–1104. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnston I (2017) India just banned all forms of disposable plastic in its capital. The Independent. Retrieved from
  33. Jones N (1993) Essentials of good planting stock, Forests and forestry technical bulletin. World Bank/AGRNR, Washington, DC Retrieved from Google Scholar
  34. Kasirajan S, Ngouajio M (2012) Polyethylene and biodegradable mulches for agricultural applications: a review. Agron Sustain Dev 32:501–529. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Khalaf MN (2015) Mechanical properties of filled high density polyethylene. J Saudi Chem Soc 19:88–91. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koller M, Atlić A, Dias M, Reiterer A, Braunegg G (2010) Microbial PHA production from waste raw materials. In: Chen GQ (ed) Plastics from bacteria: natural functions and applications, vol 14. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 85–119. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Koller M, Salerno A, Braunegg G (2013) Polyhydroxyalkanoates: basics, production and applications of microbial biopolyesters. In: Kabasci S (ed) BioBased plastics: materials and applications. Wiley, West Sussex, pp 137–170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kolybaba M, Tabil LG, Panigrahi S, Crerar WJ, Powell T, Wang B (2003) Biodegradable polymers: past, present, and future, Proceedings from ASAE meeting (Oct 3–4) 12:15–24. Elsevier, Atlanta Retrieved from,%20Present,%20and%20Future%20(Eng).pdf Google Scholar
  39. Kormin S, Kormin F, Beg MDH, Piah MBM (2017) Physical and mechanical properties of LDPE incorporated with different starch sources. IOP Conf Ser Mater 226:012157. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kulpreecha S, Boonruangthavorn A, Meksiriporn B, Thongchul N (2009) Inexpensive fed-batch cultivation for high poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) production by a new isolate of Bacillus megaterium. J Biosci Bioeng 107:240–245. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kusuktham B, Teeranachaideekul P (2014) Mechanical properties of high density polyethylene/modified calcium silicate composites. Silicon 6:179–189. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Liuxin (2017) Taiwan to expand ban on free use of plastic bags in 2018. Xin Hua News Agency. Retrieved from
  43. Lu H, Madbouly SA, Schrader JA, Kessler MR, Grewell D, Graves WR (2014) Novel bio-based composites of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)/distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). RSC Adv. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mirel Bioplastics (2018) Retrieved from
  45. Muchangi J (2017) 4 countries seek to emulate Kenya’s ban on plastic bags. The Star. Retrieved from
  46. Muriuki JK, Muia B, Munyi A (2007) New methods improve quality of tree seedlings. APA News Asia-Pacific Agrofor Newsl 31:3–5 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  47. Muriuki JK, Kuria AW, Muthuri CW, Mukuralinda A, Simons AJ, Jamnadass RH (2014) Testing biodegradable seedling containers as an alternative for polythene tubes in tropical small-scale tree nurseries. Small Scale For 13:127–142. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Niaounakis M (2015) Biopolymers: applications and trends. Elsevier, Waltham. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nielsen C, Rahman A, Rehman A, Walsh M, Miller C (2017) Food waste conversion to microbial polyhydroxyalkanoates. Microbiol Biotechnol 10:1338–1352. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. NYP Corp (2018) NYP corporation – national burlap manufacturer. Retrieved from
  51. Ojanji W (2017) Plastic ban to hit seedlings sector as firms adopt new technology. The Daily Nation. Retrieved from
  52. Ojumu T, Yu J, Solomon B (2004) Production of polyhydroxyalkanoates, a bacterial biodegradable polymer. Afr J Biotechnol 43:18–24 Retrieved from CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Palmeri R, Pappalardo F, Fragala M, Tomasello M, Damigelle A, Catara AF (2012) Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) production through conversion of glycerol by selected strains of Pseudomonas mediterranea and Pseudomonas corrugate. Chem Eng Trans 27:121–126 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  54. Panchal B, Bagdadi A, Roy I (2013) Polyhydroxyalkanoates: the natural polymers produced by bacterial fermentation. In: Thomas S, Visakh PM, Mathew AP (eds) Advances in natural polymers: composites and nanocomposites. Springer, Heidelberg/Berlin, pp 397–421. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rai R, Yunos D, Boccaccini A, Knowles J, Barker I, Howdle S, Tredwell G, Keshavarz T, Roy I (2011) Poly-3-hydroxyoctanoate P(3HO), a medium chain length polyhydroxyalkanoate homopolymer from Pseudomonas mendocina. Biomacromolecules 12:2126–2136. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Rajdeep SP, Naithani S (2013) Scope of natural and synthetic biodegradable materials in development of eco-friendly substitutes for nursery polybags – a review. eJAFE 1:35–44 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  57. Rydz J, Sikorska W, Kyulavska M, Christova D (2014) Polyester-based (bio) degradable polymers as environmentally friendly materials for sustainable development. Int J Mol Sci 16:564–596. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  58. Saito Y, Doi Y (1994) Microbial synthesis and properties of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate) in Comamonas acidovorans. Int J Biol Macromol 16:99–104. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Sanghi S (2008) Use of plastic bags: factors affecting ecologically oriented behaviour in consumers. Found Organ Res Educ 26:1–45 Retrieved from Google Scholar
  60. Schrader JA, Behrens JJ, Michel M, Grewell D (2016) Bioplastics and bio composites for horticulture containers: processing, properties, and manufacturing potential. In: Schrader JA, Kratsch HA, Graves WR (eds) Bioplastic container cropping systems: green technology for the green industry. Sustainable Hort Res Consortium, Ames Retrieved Google Scholar
  61. Shelton WS, Pocher JP (2005) WIPO Patent No. WO 2005023955 A2. World Intellectual Property Organization Patent Office, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  62. Sintim HY, Flury M (2017) Is biodegradable plastic mulch the solution to agriculture’s plastic problem? Environ Sci Technol 51:1068–1069. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. SK Chemicals Co Ltd (2004) Korean Patent No. KR20040071992A. Korean Intellectual Property Office, DaejeonGoogle Scholar
  64. Tan GYA, Chen CL, Li L, Ge L, Wang L, Razaas IMN (2014) Start a research on biopolymer polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA): a review. Polymers 6:706–754. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Telegraph Reporters (2018) Plastic waste ‘already building up in UK’ following China’s ban. The Telegraph. Retrieved from
  66. The Procter & Gamble Company (2001) WIPO Patent No. WO2001093678A2. World Intellectual Property Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  67. Tianjin GreenBio Materials Co Ltd (2018) Green Bio. Performance index. Retrieved from
  68. UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) (2005) Plastic bag ban in Kenya proposed as part of new waste strategy. UNEP Press release. Retrieved from
  69. Valappil SP, Peiris D, Langley GJ, Herniman JM, Boccaccini AR, Bucke C, Roy I (2007) Polyhydroxylkanoate (PHA) biosynthesis from structurally unrelates carbon sources by a newly characterized Bacillus spp. J Biotechnol 127:475–487. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Wadekar SD, Kale SB, Lali AM, Bhowmick DN, Pratap AP (2012) Ultilization of sweetwater as a cost-effective carbon source for sophorolipids production by Sramerella bombicola (ATCC 22214). Prep Biochem Biotechnol 42:125–142. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Williams SF, Rizk S, Martin DP (2013) Poly-4-hydroxybutyrate (P4HB): a new generation of resorbable medical devices for tissue repair and regeneration. Biomed Tech (Berl) 58:439–452. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Yamane T (1993) Yield of poly-D(-)-3-hydroxybutyrate from various carbon sources: a theoretical study. Biotechnol Bioeng 41:165–170. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Yatim A, Syafiq I, Huong K, Amirul AA, Effendy A, Bhubalan K (2017) Bioconversion of novel and renewable agro-industry by-products into a biodegradable poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) by marine Bacillus megaterium UMTKB-1 strain. Biotechnologia 2:141–151. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yu R (2011) China Patent No. CN102140185A. China Trademark Office, BeijingGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tan Suet May Amelia
    • 1
  • Sharumathiy Govindasamy
    • 1
  • Arularasu Muthaliar Tamothran
    • 1
  • Sevakumaran Vigneswari
    • 2
  • Kesaven Bhubalan
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Marine and Environmental SciencesUniversiti Malaysia TerengganuKuala NerusMalaysia
  2. 2.School of Fundamental SciencesUniversiti Malaysia TerengganuKuala NerusMalaysia
  3. 3.Malaysian Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals, NIBM, MOSTIGelugorMalaysia
  4. 4.Institute of Marine BiotechnologyUniversiti Malaysia TerengganuKuala NerusMalaysia

Personalised recommendations