Compost biodegradation of recalcitrant hoof keratin by bacteria and fungi.

Reuter, T.R., Gilroyed, B.H., Xu, W., McAllister, T.A., and Stanford, K. (2015). "Compost biodegradation of recalcitrant hoof keratin by bacteria and fungi.", Journal of Applied Microbiology, 119(2), pp. 425-434. doi : 10.1111/jam.12849  Access to full text


Aims: Compost activities efficiently break down a wide range of organic substances over time. In this study, bovine hoof was used as recalcitrant protein model to gain so far cryptic information on biodegradation during livestock mortalities composting. Methods and Results: Bovine hooves (black and white), containing different amounts of melanin, placed into nylon bags were monitored during composting of cattle mortalities for up to 230 days. Besides physiochemical analysis, bacterial 16S and fungal 18S DNA fragments were amplified by PCR and profiles were separated by DGGE. Sequence analysis of separated fragments revealed various bacterial and fungal identities during composting. The microbial diversity was affected by a time-temperature interaction and by the hoof colour. Our molecular data, supported by electron microscopy, suggest hoof colonization by shifting bacteria and fungi communities. Conclusion: During composting, microbial communities work collaboratively in the degradation of recalcitrant organic matter such as keratin over time. Significance and Impact of the study: A number of biomolecules including recalcitrant proteins may persist in environmental reservoirs, but breakdown can occur during composting. A combination of bioactivity and physiochemical conditions appear to be decisive for the fate of persistent biomolecules.

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