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Volume 2011, Article ID 693253, 13 pages
Review Article

Synthesis, Production, and Biotechnological Applications of Exopolysaccharides and Polyhydroxyalkanoates by Archaea

1Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry (ICB), National Research Council (CNR), Via Campi Flegrei 34, 80078 Pozzuoli, Italy
2Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Naples “Parthenope”, Centro Direzionale, Isola C4, 80143 Naples, Italy

Received 13 May 2011; Accepted 11 July 2011

Academic Editor: Alessandra Morana

Copyright © 2011 Annarita Poli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Extreme environments, generally characterized by atypical temperatures, pH, pressure, salinity, toxicity, and radiation levels, are inhabited by various microorganisms specifically adapted to these particular conditions, called extremophiles. Among these, the microorganisms belonging to the Archaea domain are of significant biotechnological importance as their biopolymers possess unique properties that offer insights into their biology and evolution. Particular attention has been devoted to two main types of biopolymers produced by such peculiar microorganisms, that is, the extracellular polysaccharides (EPSs), considered as a protection against desiccation and predation, and the endocellular polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) that provide an internal reserve of carbon and energy. Here, we report the composition, biosynthesis, and production of EPSs and PHAs by different archaeal species.