Biopolymers

Details

Serval ID
serval:BIB_570C30E0CF22
Type
A part of a book
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
Biopolymers
Title of the book
Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences
Author(s)
Poirier Y.
Publisher
Academic Press
Address of publication
Amsterdam
ISBN
0-12-227050-9
Publication state
Published
Issued date
2003
Editor
Thomas B., Murphy D., Murray B.
Pages
477-484
Language
english
Abstract
Plants naturally synthesize a variety of polymers that have been used by mankind as a source of useful
biomaterials. For example, cellulose, the main constituent of plant cell wall and the most abundant polymer on earth, has been used for several thousand years as a source of fibers for various fabrics. Similarly, rubber extracted from the bark of the tree Hevea brasiliensis, has been a major source of elastomers until the development of similar synthetic polymers. In the last century, the usefulness of plant polymers as biomaterials has been expanded through the chemical modification of the natural polymers. For example, a number of plastics have been made by substituting the hydroxyl groups present on the glucose moiety of cellulose with larger groups, such as nitrate or acetate, giving rise to materials such as cellulose acetate, a clear plastic used in consumer products such as toothbrush handles and combs. Similarly, starch has been used in the manufacture of plastics by either using it in blends with synthetic polymers or as the main constituent in biodegradable plastics. The advent of transformation and expres- sion of foreign genes in plants has created the possibility of expanding the usefulness of plants to include the synthesis of a range of biomolecules. In view of the capacity of certain crops to produce a large quantity of organic raw material at low cost, such as oils and starch, it is of interest to explore the possibility of using transgenic plants as efficient vectors for the synthesis of biopolymers. Such plant based biopolymers could replace, in part, the synthetic plastics and elastomers produced from petroleum, offering the advantage of renewability and sustainability. Furthermore, being natural pro- ducts, biopolymers are usually biodegradable and can thus contribute to alleviate problems associated with the management of plastic waste.
In this article, the emphasis will be on the use of transgenic plants for the synthesis of two novel classes of industrially useful polymers, namely protein based polymers made from natural or artificial genes, and polyhydroxyalkanoates, a family of bacterial poly- esters having the properties of biodegradable plastics and elastomers.
Create date
26/02/2008 12:33
Last modification date
20/08/2019 15:11
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