Pollution caused by persistent petro-plastics is the most pressing problem currently, with 8 million tons of plastic waste dumped annually in the oceans. Plastic waste management is not systematized in many countries, because it is laborious and expensive with secondary pollution hazards. Bioplastics, synthesized by microorganisms, are viable alternatives to petrochemical-based thermoplastics due to their biodegradable nature. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a structurally and functionally diverse group of storage polymers synthesized by many microorganisms, including bacteria and Archaea. Some of the most important PHA accumulating bacteria include Cupriavidus necator, Burkholderia sacchari, Pseudomonas sp., Bacillus sp., recombinant Escherichia coli, and certain halophilic extremophiles. PHAs are synthesized by specialized PHA polymerases with assorted monomers derived from the cellular metabolite pool. In the natural cycle of cellular growth, PHAs are depolymerized by the native host for carbon and energy. The presence of these microbial PHA depolymerases in natural niches is responsible for the degradation of bioplastics. Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is the most common PHA with desirable thermoplastic-like properties. PHAs have widespread applications in various industries including biomedicine, fine chemicals production, drug delivery, packaging, and agriculture. This review provides the updated knowledge on the metabolic pathways for PHAs synthesis in bacteria, and the major microbial hosts for PHAs production. Yeasts are presented as a potential candidate for industrial PHAs production, with their high amenability to genetic engineering and the availability of industrial-scale technology. The major bottlenecks in the commercialization of PHAs as an alternative for plastics and future perspectives are also critically discussed.

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