Disposal of huge quantities of chicken feathers could soon be made easier following the discovery of a new micro-organism that can disintegrate the protein in them in around 30 hours.
Chicken feathers usually take five to seven years to disintegrate because of the keratin component in them. The micro-organism was discovered by Jyoti Jadhav, head of the biotechnology department of Shivaji University in Kolhapur, and her research student, Ranjit Gurav.
“We were collecting micro-organisms from the soil and found six of them capable of disintegrating chicken feathers in various time-frames,” said Jadhav, who had been working with Gurav on this project for the last three-and-a-half years.
Of the six, one was found to be potent and was deposited with the International Database Bank in the US. Little did Jadhav and Gurav know that they had chanced upon a new species of micro-organism, which was later named Chryseobacterium species Research Bio Technology.
“Chicken feathers have to be placed in a liquid mixed with the micro-organism. This mixture needs aeration. This is a simple method and the technology can be easily transferred to laymen,” said Gurav.
The microorganism secretes the enzyme keratinise, which breaks keratin into peptides and then into amino acids. The liquid generated after the degradation of the feathers is a good quality bio-fertilser. “The liquid residue after the degradation of the feathers contains natural amino acids, which are much better bio-fertilisers than chemically made amino acids. The trials of this liquid remains on plants has shown good results,” Jadhav said.
Jadhav was recently honoured with the Young Woman Scientist Award of the Biotech Research Society India.