Cellulose is one of the most abundant polymers in nature, which is found as a structural component in the cell wall of plants, algae and some lower animals. It can be also produced by various species of bacteria, such as those of the genera Gluconacetobacter (formerly Acetobacter), Agrobacterium, Aerobacter, Azotobacter, Rhizobium, and Salmonella.
Plant cellulose is often interspersed with other cell wall components such as lignin, hemicelluloses and pectin, removal of which is inherently difficult and environmentally unfriendly. Bacterial cellulose has high purity in contrast to plant cellulose. Moreover, bacterial cellulose exhibits unique physical, chemical and mechanical properties including high crystallinity, large surface area, elasticity, and biocompatibility. It also has higher tensile strength and water holding capacity than that of plant cellulose, making it more suitable raw material for producing high fidelity acoustic speakers, high quality paper and dessert foods. Because of the unique properties, resulting from the ultrafine reticulated structure, BC has found a multitude of applications in paper, textile, and food industries, and as a biomaterial in cosmetics and medicine. Wider application of bacterial cellulose is dependent on the scale of production and its cost. Relatively high cost and low volumetric yields of the bacterial cellulose production limit its application. Therefore, it is important to develop both economical and high quality bacterial cellulose production methods for the promotion of bacterial cellulose use. Basic studies run together with intensive research on strain improvement and production process development.
This research aims to optimize bacterial cellulose production for the maximum cellulose productivity and for satisfaction of the cellulose properties of interest. The study involves improvement of cellulose producing strain by molecular biology methods, metabolic engineering of the cellulose producing cells, optimization of process parameters, and characterization of product.