Potential use of wool-associated Bacillus species for biodegradation of keratinous materials

A. Catarina Queiroga, Manuela E. Pintado, F. Xavier Malcata*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Five wool-degrading bacterial strains were selected from a set of 115 isolates from a less conventional source, i.e., the wool of Portuguese Merino sheep, based on their promising keratinolytic abilities. All selected strains belong to the genus Bacillus, probably Bacillus subtilis/. licheniformis, according to 16S rRNA sequencing. They were able to grow on and hydrolyse feathers and wool (in both native and milled forms), and human hair and nails to a lesser extent. The maximum keratinase activity was recorded on milled chicken feathers. Biodegradation of such keratin-rich matrices increased the amount of soluble proteins in the fermentation broth and implied the action of extracellular enzymes from those adventitious microorganisms. Therefore, such novel strains have a potential for effective use in solid waste management strategies encompassing keratin-rich materials based on submerged fermentation. Concomitantly, the nutritional value of the broth may be improved for eventual formulation of animal feed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Feather
  • Hair
  • Keratinase
  • Nail
  • Novel strains
  • Protease


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