Bacillus flexus cultivated on sucrose and sucrose with plant oil such as castor oil produced polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), a homopolymer of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and PHA copolymer (containing hydroxybutyrate and hexanoate), respectively. Gamma irradiation of these cells (5-40 kGy) resulted in cell damage and aided in the isolation of 45% and 54% PHA on biomass weight, correspondingly. Molecular weight of PHB increased from 1.5×105 to 1.9×105 after irradiation (10 kGy), with marginal increase of tensile strength from 18 to 20 MPa. At the same irradiation dosage, PHA copolymer showed higher molecular weight increase from 1.7×105 to 2.3×10 5 and tensile strength from 20 to 35 MPa. GC, GC-MS, FTIR and 1H NMR were used for the characterization of PHA. Gamma irradiation seems to be a novel technique, to induce cross-linking and molecular weight increase of PHA copolymer and aid in easy extractability of intracellular PHA, simultaneously.
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