Degradation of chicken feathers by Chrysosporium georgiae
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Using a baiting technique, Chrysosporium georgiae was isolated from chicken feathers. Twenty-eight different fungal isolates were evaluated for their ability to produce keratinase enzymes using a keratin–salt agar medium containing either white chicken feathers or a prepared feather keratin suspension (KS). The Chrysosporium species were able to use keratin and grow at different rates. Chrysosporium georgiae completely degraded the added keratin after 9 days of incubation. Degradation of feathers by C. georgiae was affected by several cultural factors. Highest keratinolytic activity occurred after 3 weeks of incubation at 6 and 8~pH at 30 °C. Chrysosporium georgiae was able to degrade white chicken feathers, whereas bovine and human hair and sheep wool were not degraded and did not support fungal growth. Addition of 1% glucose to the medium containing keratin improved fungal growth and increased enzyme production. Higher keratin degradation resulted in high SH accumulation and the utilization of the carbohydrate carbon in the medium resulted in high keto-acid accumulation but decreased ammonia accumulation. Supplementation of the keratin–salt medium with minerals such as NH4Cl and MgSO4 slightly increased mycelial growth, but decreased production of extracelluar keratinase. Keratinase enzymes were very poorly produced in the absence of keratin, indicating its inducible nature. Analysis of endocellular keratinases in the mycelial homogenate indicated higher activity of intracellular keratinase as compared to the extracellular enzyme in culture filtrates. Chrysosporium georgiae was the most superior for keratinase production among the Chrysosporium species tested in the presence or absence of glucose. It produced more of the intracellular enzymes than the exocellular ones.
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