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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Aug;62(8):2875-82.

Keratin Degradation by Fervidobacterium pennavorans, a Novel Thermophilic Anaerobic Species of the Order Thermotogales.


From a hot spring of the Azores islands a novel thermophilic bacterium belonging to the Thermotogales order was isolated. This strain, which grows optimally at 70(deg)C and pH 6.5, is the first known extreme thermophile that is able to degrade native feathers at high temperatures. The enzyme system converts feather meal to amino acids and peptides. On the basis of physiological, morphological, and 16S rDNA studies the new isolate was found to be a member of the Thermotogales order and was identified as Fervidobacterium pennavorans. The strain was highly related to Fervidobacterium islandicum and Fervidobacterium pullulanolyticum. The cell-bound keratinolytic enzyme system was purified 32-fold by detergent treatment with CHAPS (3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)-dimethyl-ammonio]-1-propanesulfonate) and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The enzyme was characterized as a serine protease with a molecular mass of 130 kDa and an isoelectric point of 3.8. Optimal activity was measured at 80(deg)C and pH 10.0. Furthermore, 19 anaerobic thermophilic archaea and bacteria belonging to the orders Thermococcales, Thermoproteales, Thermotogales, and Clostridiales (growth temperatures between 60 and 105(deg)C) were tested for their abilities to grow on feathers and produce heat-stable keratinolytic enzymes. None of the tested extremophilic microorganisms was able to attack the substrate in a native form.

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