Polyhydroxybutyrate, a Biodegradable Thermoplastic, Produced in Transgenic Plants

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Science  24 Apr 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5056, pp. 520-523
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5056.520


Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), a high molecular weight polyester, is accumulated as a storage carbon in many species of bacteria and is a biodegradable thermoplastic. To produce PHB by genetic engineering in plants, genes from the bacterium Alcaligenes eutrophus that encoded the two enzymes required to convert acetoacetyl—coenzyme A to PHB were placed under transcriptional control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter and introduced into Arabidopsis thaliana. Transgenic plant lines that contained both genes accumulated PHB as electron-lucent granules in the cytoplasm, nucleus, and vacuole; the size and appearance of these granules were similar to the PHB granules that accumulate in bacteria.

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