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We are iGEM Leiden 2023! Our goal is to optimize and scale-up PHA bioplastic production. By using renewable methanol as a carbon source, we are making strides towards a sustainable future.

PHAse Out is a project that could improve the environment as it can prevent plastic waste. To realize this, we ask for your support: any form is much appreciated, be it a financial donation or sharing our project! See our sponsors page for more information about supporting us.

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Microplastics are a huge issue. It was estimated that on average, humans ingest 0.1–5 g of microplastics every week, globally, through various sources [1]. One of those sources is via agriculture. For example, plastic is used as a coating in slow-release fertilizers and as mulch films for crops [2]. That plastic then ends up in the food that we consume and ultimately may impact human health.

This stresses on the importance of developing a better and more sustainable alternative to these plastic products that are used in agriculture.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable polymers produced by microorganisms. PHA are both bio-based and bio-degradable which makes them a great alternative for these plastics [3]. However, at this moment the cost of producing PHA is high, and the process is not environmentally sustainable [4].

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Our aim is to improve PHA production and to make the production cycle sustainable and cost-efficient on a large scale. For this we will use the bacterium Methylobacterium extorquens AM1.

This bacterium is able to use methanol as a carbon source, making this a renewable process to make bio-based and bio-degradable plastic on an industrial scale [5].

Read more about our project!


  1. Senathirajah, K., Attwood, S., Bhagwat, G., Carbery, M., Wilson, S., & Palanisami, T. (2021). Estimation of the mass of microplastics ingested – A pivotal first step towards human health risk assessment. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 404, 124004.

  2. Microplastics in fertiliser: common practice, unknown problem - Plastic Soup Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2023, from

  3. GO!PHA — What is PHA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2023, from
  4. Molenveld, K., Post, W., Ferreira, S. F., Sévaux, G. de, & Hartstra, M. (2022). Paving the way for biobased materials.
  5. Höfer, P., Choi, Y. J., Osborne, M. J., Miguez, C. B., Vermette, P., & Groleau, D. (2010). Production of functionalized polyhydroxyalkanoates by genetically modified Methylobacterium extorquens strains. Microbial Cell Factories, 9.
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