Microbial polyester polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is a carbon-neutral and environmental-friendly material with high commercial value due to its biodegradability and biocompatibility properties. PHA was originally thought to comprise of a single monomeric repeat unit of 3-hydroxybutyrate, but this notion has been since overthrown with the discovery of other chemically-distinct PHA monomers. To date, more than 150 PHA monomers have been documented. A PHA molecule may consist of two or more PHA monomers, endowing PHA polymer with high chemical diversity. This enables PHA materials of varied properties to be produced and tailored for applicationspecific purposes. However, the sheer number of chemically-diverse PHA monomers has also made the task of PHA analysis an extremely challenging one. Numerous techniques have been exploited for the detection, quantification, and characterization of microbial intracellular PHA and PHA polymers. New techniques are also continuously being developed with advancing instrumentation capabilities. This book chapter introduces the basic working principles underlying current and emerging PHA analytical techniques, and summarizes key protocols and information related to these techniques. The potential applications of emerging techniques are also highlighted and discussed.
Keywords: Biopolyester, Capillary electrophoresis, Characterization, Detection, Fluorescence spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID), Gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS), MALDI-TOF-MS, Mass spectroscopy (MS), NMR spectroscopy, PHA staining, Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), Quantification, Techniques, Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Wet scanning transmission electron microscopy (wet STEM).