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Iron Catalysed Radical Polymerisation by Living Bacteria

Bennett, Mechelle; Gurnani, Pratik; Alexander, Cameron; Hill, Phil; Rawson, Frankie James


Mechelle Bennett

Pratik Gurnani

Associate Professor


The ability to harness cellular redox processes for abiotic synthesis might allow the preparation of engineered hybrid living systems. Towards this goal, we describe a new bacteria‐mediated Iron‐catalysed Reversible Deactivation Radical Polymerisation (RDRP), with a range of metal‐chelating agents and monomers that can be used under ambient conditions with a bacterial redox initiation step to generate polymers. Species of bacteria; Cupriavidus metallidurans, Escherichia coli and Clostridium sporogenes were chosen for their redox enzyme systems and evaluated for their ability to induce polymer formation. Parameters including cell and catalyst concentration, initiator species and monomer type were investigated. Water‐soluble synthetic polymers were produced in the presence of the bacteria with full preservation of cell viability. This methodology provides a means by which bacterial redox systems can be exploited to generate ‘unnatural’ polymers in the presence of ‘host’ cells, thus setting up the possibility of making natural‐synthetic hybrid structures and conjugates.


Bennett, M., Gurnani, P., Alexander, C., Hill, P., & Rawson, F. J. (2020). Iron Catalysed Radical Polymerisation by Living Bacteria. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 59(12), 4750-4755.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2019
Online Publication Date Jan 2, 2020
Publication Date Mar 16, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 8, 2020
Journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition
Print ISSN 1433-7851
Electronic ISSN 1521-3773
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 59
Issue 12
Pages 4750-4755
Keywords General Chemistry; Catalysis
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Bennett, M., Gurnani, P., Alexander, C., Hill, P. and Rawson, F..J. (2020), Iron Catalysed Radical Polymerisation by Living Bacteria. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. Accepted Author Manuscript., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.