Biopolymers Produced by Lactic Acid Bacteria: Characterization and Food Application
Plants, animals, bacteria, and food waste are subjects of intensive research, as they are biological sources for the production of biopolymers. The topic links to global challenges related to the extended life cycle of products, and circular economy objectives. A severe and well-known threat to the environment, the non-biodegradability of plastics obliges different stakeholders to find legislative and technical solutions for producing valuable polymers which are biodegradable and also exhibit better characteristics for packaging products. Microorganisms are recognized nowadays as exciting sources for the production of biopolymers with applications in the food industry, package production, and several other fields. Ubiquitous organisms, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are well studied for the production of exopolysaccharides (EPS), but much less as producers of polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Based on their good biodegradability feature, as well as the possibility to be obtained from cheap biomass, PLA and PHAs polymers currently receive increased attention from both research and industry. The present review aims to provide an overview of LAB strains&rsquo; characteristics that render them candidates for the biosynthesis of EPS, PLA, and PHAs, respectively. Further, the biopolymers&rsquo; features are described in correlation with their application in different food industry fields and for food packaging. Having in view that the production costs of the polymers constitute their major drawback, alternative solutions of biosynthesis in economic terms are discussed.
Publication date: 20/03/2023
Author: Cristina Mihaela Nicolescu
Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym15061539