Isolation and characterization of feather degrading bacteria from Mauritian soil
This study is aimed at isolating and characterizing new culturable feather degrading bacteria from soils of the University of Mauritius Farm. Bacteria that were isolated were tested for their capability to grow on feather meal agar (FMA). Proteolytic bacteria were tested for feather degradation and were further identified according to their morphological and biochemical characteristics. All of the three isolates were from the Bacillus genus. Maximum enzyme activity was obtained from isolate DF1a. Maximum keratinolytic activity of 128 U/ml and maximum proteolytic activity of 373 U/ml were obtained. The optimal conditions for the keratinolytic activity of this strain were determined to be pH 8.0 and temperature of 70°C. In addition, this isolate was able to completely degrade a whole chicken feather within a period of 14 days at room temperature (28±2°C). These three Bacillus strains (DF1a, DF2b and DF3) are therefore promising strains for the management of chicken feather waste through biotechnological processes.
Key words: Bacillus, keratinolytic proteases, keratin waste management.