High Diversity among Feather-Degrading Bacteria from a Dry Meadow Soil
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The aim of this study was to determine the diversity of cultivable bacteria able to degrade feathers and present in soil under temperate climate. We obtained 33 isolates from soil samples, which clustered in 13 ARDRA groups. These isolates were able to grow on solid medium with pigeon feathers as sole carbon and nitrogen source. One representative isolate of each ARDRA group was selected for identification and feather degradation tests. The phylogenetic analysis of 16S rDNA gene fragments revealed that only 4 isolates were gram positives. Two other isolates belonged to the Cytophaga–Flavobacterium group, and the remaining to Proteobacteria. High keratinolysis activity was found for strains related to Bacillus, Cytophagales, Actinomycetales, and Proteobacteria. The 13 selected strains showed variable efficiency in degrading whole feathers and 5 strains were able to degrade maximum 40% to 98% of the whole feathers. After 4 weeks incubation, five strains grown on milled feathers produced more than 0.5 U keratinase per mL. Keratinase activities across the 13 strains were positively correlated with the percentage of feather fragmentation and protein concentration.
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