Selective biodegradation of recalcitrant black chicken feathers by a newly isolated thermotolerant bacterium Pseudochrobactrum sp. IY-BUK1 for enhanced production of keratinase and protein-rich hydrolysates

  • Ibrahim YusufEmail author
  • Lawal Garba
  • Mustapha Ahmad Shehu
  • Aminat Musa Oyiza
  • Muhammad Rabiu Kabir
  • Musa Haruna
Original Article


Black chicken feathers generated in large amount from poultry and slaughter houses are highly recalcitrant to microbial degradation due to their tough structural nature. A novel keratinolytic bacterium that possessed high affinity for black feather was isolated from chicken manure and identified as Pseudochrobactrum sp. IY-BUK1. Keratinase and feather soluble protein were effectively produced by the free living cells of the bacterium in media containing only black feathers and a mixture of equal amount of black-, brown- and white-coloured feathers. Complete degradation of 5 g/L of black feathers was completed in 3 days following optimisation of physico-chemical conditions. However, the bacterium selectively completed the degradation of black feather in a medium containing mixture of feathers in 144 h leaving behind approximately 33% and 45% of brown and white feathers in the medium respectively. Gellan gum-immobilised cells of strain IY-BUK1 enhanced the keratinase production by about 150% and were used repeatedly for ten cycles to degrade 5 g/L of black feather in a semi continuous fermentation of 18 h per cycle with enhanced and stable production of soluble protein. The study demonstrated the potential use of Pseudochrobactrum sp. IY-BUK1 not only in biodegradation of highly recalcitrant black feathers, but also in producing keratinase enzymes and valuable soluble proteins for possible industrial usage.


Pseudochrobactrum sp. IY-BUK1 Feather degradation Keratinase Melanised feathers Immobilisation Gellan gum 



The authors wish to acknowledge the heads of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Centre for Biotechnology research for providing the facilities to carry out the work.

Funding information

The project was partially supported financially by Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ibrahim Yusuf
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lawal Garba
    • 2
  • Mustapha Ahmad Shehu
    • 1
  • Aminat Musa Oyiza
    • 1
  • Muhammad Rabiu Kabir
    • 1
  • Musa Haruna
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, College of Natural and Pharmaceutical SciencesBayero University, KanoKanoNigeria
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyGombe State UniversityGombeNigeria
  3. 3.Department of BiologyKano University of Science and TechnologyWudilNigeria

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