Several species of environmental bacteria can be optimized to produce commercially harvestable biodegradable polymers (e.g. polyhydroxyalkanoates), and to degrade pollutants (e.g. halogenated aromatic compounds). Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are increasingly used in applications ranging from degradable packaging to biomedical applications because of their biodegradability and biocompatibility. Different strains of naturally occurring and genetically modified bacteria produce PHAs as energy storage compounds to sustain life through carbon-limited environmental fluctuations. Optimization of both polymer production and bioremediation properties, however are limited due to inabilities of traditional characterization techniques such as gas chromatography and transmission electron microscopy to quantitatively distinguish the presence of PHAs or other compounds in situ and these techniques often require significant sample preparation. Here we report application of Raman spectroscopic techniques for rapid determination of PHA formation within living, hydrated soil bacteria Cupriavidus necator, both within a single bacterium and throughout a population. The capacity to measure internal metabolite differences, demonstrated hereby the capture of the uneven growth of PHAs within the bacteria, provide new measurement tools to both optimize the production of biopolymers and the capacity for bioremediation.
Pub Type: Journals
polyhydroxybutyrates, Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, Cupriavidus necator, biopolymers, crystallinity