Bioprospecting microalgae and cyanobacteria from wastewaters to produce sustainable plastics

June 24th, 2024

Presentation by Dr Valentina Hurtado McCormick (CSIRO)

Promising advances in biodegradable plant-based plastics are controversial because these may compete with forecasted demands for food supplies. Microalgae and cyanobacteria offer competitive biological models for optimal production of various bioplastic precursors, including polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). In principle, aqueous environments within mine sites and wastewater treatment plants are suitable for PHA intracellular accumulation, but our understanding of i) microalgal/cyanobacterial cultivation in contaminated waters and its effects on the microorganisms and their feedstocks, and ii) the biodiversity of these microbes in waste for commercially viable plastics, is still very limited. Our process-oriented
bioprospecting efforts aim to produce bioplastic precursors at the desired scales.