The POLYBIO group aims to explore and exploit the capacity of bacteria to produce and degrade plastics to contribute to the sustainability of the planet.

The problem of environmental pollution generated by the massive use of plastic materials derived from the petrochemical industry has sparked much interest in the implementation of sustainable processes, which involve the use of biomass derived from waste to generate alternative materials (bioplastics) to these products. high consumption. Although our projects involve several polymers of biotechnological interest such as bacterial nanocellulose, much of our research activity focuses on the production of bacterial polyesters or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), since they are considered among the most promising biopolymers due to their biodegradable nature.

To do this, we design bioplastic production processes through the revaluation of industrial and urban waste such as glycerol, fatty waste or synthetic gas (syngas). We use natural producer bacteria, such as Pseudomonas putida and Rhodospirillum rubrum, and genetically improved microorganisms for the process. We study the metabolic pathways and their regulatory networks in producer bacteria, and their impact on the physiology of other microorganisms in their environment, including predatory bacteria such as Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. We apply this work in the production of new materials, including second-generation functionalized PHAs, with new properties (e.g. antimicrobial), and susceptible to chemical modification after their biosynthesis, says Dr. Oliver Drzyzga, a member of the group.

(Image: POLYBIO group in June 2023)

Furthermore, we are very interested in the design and development of new bacterial biomass processing systems for the extraction of intracellular bioproducts in industry. To do this, we use different lytic agents that control the release of bioproducts to the extracellular environment. Finally, we are working on the identification and characterization of enzymes for the synthesis and biodegradation of materials, as well as for the production of monomeric intermediates of these (building blocks).

Watch the group’s informative video:


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