Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are microbial polyesters that have the potential to replace nonbiodegradable petroplastics. A real-time in situ PHA quantification method has long been awaited to replace the traditional method, which is time- and labor-consuming. Quantification of PHA in living cells was finally developed from fluorescence intensities generated from the green fluorescence protein (GFP) fused with the Halomonas bluephagenesis phasin proteins. Phasins PhaP1 and PhaP2 were used to fuse with GFP, which reflected PHA accumulation with an R-square of over 0.9. Also, a standard correlation was established to calculate PHA contents based on the fluorescence and cell density recorded via a microplate reader with an R-square of over 0.95 when grown on various substrates. The PhaP2-GFP containing H. bluephagenesis was applied successfully to quantify PHA synthesis in a 7.5 L fermenter with high precision. Moreover, the method was found to be feasible in non-natural PHA producers such as Escherichia coli, demonstrating its broad applicability.
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