Marine sponge-associated bacteria: A new source for Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs)
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) possess a wide range of well-established industrial applications and being considered as alternate for fossil-fuel derived/synthetic plastics. Major research efforts are currently focusing on increasing the ability to produce these materials in an economically competitive manner so that their widespread use will become more economic and commercially viable. Diverse bacteria from various environments have been sourced for production of PHAs and literature evidenced that the marine microbes are scarcely explored for PHAs synthesis. Marine sponges (Porifera) are recognized as a rich source of bioactive secondary metabolites and they harbor a remarkable array of microorganisms constitute 30-50% of the sponge-mesohyl, occurring mostly as intracellular endosymbionts. The competition between these sponge-associated microbes may create a stressful environment, which may favor the synthesis of PHAs by bacteria. Inclusion of storage substances such as PHAs is a common bacterial strategy that increases survival in stressful and fluctuating environment. Hence, I proposed a hypothesis that given the nutrient deplete environment that prevail within marine sponges that their bacterial endosymbionts are likely to produce a diverse range of PHAs, given that such an ecosystem is likely to enrich for PHA producing bacteria and which will ultimately end-up with new classes of biopolymers discovery for commercial applications.