Document Type


Publication Date

June 2001


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS) was used for the characterization of a partially transesterified poly(beta-hydroxyalkanoate) (PHA), a polymer produced by the bacterial strain Alcaligenes eutrophus with saponified vegetable oils as the sole carbon sources. The transesterification was carried out separately under acidic and basic conditions to obtain PHA oligomers weighing <10 kDa. The intact oligomers were detected in their cationized forms, [M + Na]+ and [M + K]+, by MALDI-TOFMS. A composition analysis, using the MALDI-TOF spectra, indicated that the oligomers obtained via acid catalysis contained a methyl 3-hydroxybutyrate end group, and those obtained by base catalysis had a methyl crotonate (olefinic) end group. In addition to hydroxybutyrate (HB), the oligomers were found to contain a small percentage of hydroxyvalerate, which was independently confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. In comparison, analysis of a commercial PHA polymer, transesterified under identical conditions, showed only the presence of HB, i.e., a pure poly(HB) homopolymer.

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