Kolhapur scientist finds key to disposal of chicken feathers

Published: Sunday, Jan 1, 2012, 15:40 IST 
By Mohsin Mulla | Place: Pune, Kolhapur | Agency: DNA
The disposal of chicken feathers, that are generated in huge quantities at poultry farms and at meat shops, will now be an easy task with the biotechnology department of Kolhapur’s Shivaji University identifying a new microorganism that disintegrates feathers within 30 hours.
The department’s head, Jyoti Jadhav and her research student, Ranjit Gurav were working on this project for three-and-a-half years.
Keratin in feathers makes their degeneration difficult, lasting for five to seven years. The feathers cannot be incinerated also as a large quantity of sulphur is released.
“We were collecting the microorganisms from the soil and found six microorganisms capable of degenerating the feathers in various time frames,” Jadhav said. Of the six, one was found to be potent and was deposited with the International Database Bank in USA.
“This microorganism turned out to be a new species and was named as ‘Chryseobacterium species Research Bio Technology.’ According to the researchers, it disintegrates chicken feathers within 30 hours.
“The feathers have to be placed in a liquid medium mixed with the microorganism. This mixture needs aeration. This is a simple method and the technology can be easily transferred to laymen,” Gurav said.
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.
The microorganism can also be used instead of chemicals in tanneries for removing hair from hide.
Incidentally, Jadhav was recently honoured with the young woman scientist award of the Biotech Research Society India. A fellow of the Maharashtra Academy of Sciences, she has authored more than 50 research articles.
She is well-known for her work on ‘Bioremediation of textile dyes and affluent and their toxicity analysis.’ She has been conducting research on medicines used in Parkinson’s disease and melanin.
Speaking to DNA, Jadhav expressed gratitude to SU vice chancellor NJ Pawar, biochemistry department head SP Govindvar and emeritus professor VA Bapat for assisting her in the project