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Optimizing Thermophilic Bacteria to Reduce Biomass and Generate Products for Value Creation

Alternative title: Optimalisering av termofile bakterier for å redusere biomasse og generere produkter for verdiskapning

Awarded: NOK 0.48 mill.

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Project Period:

2019 - 2019

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Subject Fields:

Keratin is a fibrous and recalcitrant structural protein and is the third most abundant polymer in nature after cellulose and chitin. A wide spectrum of animals have developed a diversity of keratins used as structural parts of their outer protection which make up a major component of feathers, hair, horns, hooves, cloves, nails etc. Keratin-laden tissues represent a significant challenge for the animal rendering industry. For example, feathers consist of more than 90% keratin and represent a huge waste product of the poultry industry, where most ends up in landfills or being burned. We have isolated and identified an anaerobic thermophilic bacterium, Fervidobacterium pennivorans strain Ker, which can break down keratin under industrial process conditions. We intend to optimize the conditions under which this bacterium breaks down keratin and further characterize its metabolic and genomic features with emphasis on keratin-degrading enzymes, which will lead to better understanding and control of the overall keratin-degrading process. Biological breakdown of keratin can produce valuable nutritional by-products like peptides, amino acids, feed additive or fertilizer and will reduce the volume of biomass waste. Main objectives of this project are to develop an applicable industrial process for keratin degradation and to have a licensing deal with an industrial partner by the end of the optimization period.

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