Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 2690–2696 | Cite as

Composition analysis and application of degradation products of whole feathers through a large scale of fermentation

  • Zhang-Jun Cao
  • Dan Lu
  • Lai-Sheng Luo
  • Yun-Xia Deng
  • Yong-Gang Bian
  • Xing-Qun Zhang
  • Mei-Hua ZhouEmail author
Research Article



Feathers are one of the most abundant bioresources. They are discarded as waste in most cases and could cause environmental pollution. On the other hand, keratin constituted by amino acids is the main component of feathers. In this article, we reported on biorefined feathers and integrants and application of degraded products.

Materials and methods

The fermentation of whole chicken feathers with Stenotrophomonas maltophilia DHHJ in a scale-up of a 5-L bioreactor was investigated in this article. The fermentation process was controlled at 0.08 MPa pressure, 2.5 L/min airflow, and 300 rpm as 100% oxygen saturation level, 40°C, and pH 7.8.


Feathers were almost completely degraded in the tested fermentation reaction with the following conditions: 80 g of whole feathers in 3 L fermentation broth for 72 h, seed age of 16 h, 100 mL inoculation amount, and 50% oxygen saturation level. The degraded products contain 397.1 mg/L soluble protein that has mass weight ranging from 10 to 160 kD, 336.9 mg/L amino acids, and many kinds of metal ions. The fermentation broth was evaluated as leaf fertilizer and found to increase plant growth to 82% or 66% for two- or fourfold dilutions, respectively. In addition, in a hair care assay, the broth showed a hair protective function by increasing weight, flexibility, and strength of the treated hair.


The whole feathers were degraded completely by S. maltophilia DHHJ. The degraded product includes many factors to life, such as peptides, amino acids, and mineral elements. It could be applied as leaf fertilizer and hair care product.


Whole feather S. maltophilia DHHJ Biorefinery Submerged fermentation Leaf fertilizer Hair care 



This work was partially supported by a Ph.D. program foundation of the Ministry of Education of China (no. 20090075110007) and the National Natural Science Foundation (31000989). We are grateful to Zhiyong Deng for critical reading of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhang-Jun Cao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dan Lu
    • 3
  • Lai-Sheng Luo
    • 3
  • Yun-Xia Deng
    • 2
  • Yong-Gang Bian
    • 2
  • Xing-Qun Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mei-Hua Zhou
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Science & Technology of Eco-Textile (Donghua University)Ministry of EducationShanghaiChina
  2. 2.College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and BiotechnologyDonghua UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.College of Environmental Science & EngineeringDonghua UniversityShanghaiChina

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