Difference in keratinase activity of dermatophytes at different environmental conditions is an attribute of adaptation to parasitism


Dr A. Sharma, Associate Professor of Biotechnology, Department of Biotechnology, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Applied Sciences, JECRC Campus, Tonk Road, Jaipur-302033, Rajasthan, India.
Tel.: +91 953 037 4771. Fax: +91 141 512 2449.
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Dermatophytes are a group of morphologically and physiologically related moulds, which cause well-defined infection called dermatophytosis. The enzymatic ability of fungi to decompose keratin has long been interpreted as a key innovation in the evolution of animal dermatology. In the present study, keratinase activity profile among Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, Microsporum canis and Microsporum gypseum isolated on keratin substrates such as human hair, human nail and chicken feather at variable environmental conditions of temperature, pH and metal ions was elucidated. All the above-mentioned fungal strains were isolated from soil using To-KA-Va baiting technique and keratinolytic activity was measured spectrophotometrically. In the temperature range of 30–40 °C and slightly alkaline pH (7.0–8.0), Trichophyton produced the highest activity of keratinase. It can be presumed that high enzyme production of Trichophyton species at normal body temperature range and pH could be an attribute for obligate anthropization in some dermatophytes.