Metabolix, Inc., a bioscience company focused on developing sustainable solutions for plastics, chemicals and energy, has completed a field trial of tobacco genetically engineered to express polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bio-based polymers.
Metabolix obtained the necessary permits from the US Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to perform an open air field trial in March of 2009 and field trial experiments were completed in early October. The trial was performed on 0.8 acres of land and provided valuable data and information relating to polymer production, with the best plants producing 3-5% PHA.
This furthers development of Metabolix crop technologies for the co-production of bio-based plastics in non-food bioenergy crops.
In August 2008, Metabolix announced that switchgrass plants engineered using its multi-gene expression technology produced significant amounts of PHA bioplastics in leaf tissues in greenhouse trials. This represented the first successful expression of a new functional multi-gene pathway in switchgrass, according to the company. (Earlier post.)
Metabolix is now developing and commercializing Mirel, a family of high performance bioplastics which are bio-based and biodegradable alternatives to many petroleum-based plastics. Metabolix is also developing a proprietary platform technology for co-producing plastics, chemicals and energy, from crops such as switchgrass, oilseeds and sugarcane.