The microbial polymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) and related poly-hydroxyalkanoates, such as poly-3-hydroxyvalerate and poly-3-hydroxyoctanoate, are unique biodegradable thermoplastics of considerable commercial importance. The structure, properties and regulation of synthesis and degradation of PHB are reviewed and the microbial production of copolymers of 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyvalerate, with properties varying according to copolymer composition, is discussed.

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