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Alkaline soils commonly called as Usar soil having pH 7.5 to 11.0 is commonly found in regions having poor drainage and little percolation. These soils occupy vast tracts of barren lands in the northern parts of India. These areas are frequently visited by man and animals, however there are no reports on the occurrence of keratinophilic fungi from the Usar soils. The purpose of this research was to study the occurrence of keratinophilic fungi in the alkaline Usar soil. To investigate the occurrence of soil keratinophilic fungi from Usar soil, 120 samples were collected from five districts of Uttar Pradesh viz. Lucknow, Bareilly, Azamgarh, Balia and Pratapgarh. Keratinophilic fungi were isolated by the hair baiting techniques using human hair as keratin bait. The cultures were identified using macro- and micro morphological features. Eighty-tow strains of keratinophilic fungi were recovered from 120 (68.33%) soil samples. The isolated fungi were composed of ten species of five genera viz. Chrysosporium indicum (19.16%), Microsporum gypseum (12.5%), Chrysosporium tropicum (10.0%), Chrysosporium pannicola (7.5%), Trichophyton terrestre (5.83%), Chrysosporium lucknowense (4.16%), Chrysosporium state of Ctenomyces serratus (3.33%), Gymnascella dankailensis (3.33%), Gymnoascus reessii (1.66 %) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (1.66 %). The presence of keratinophilic fungi in the Usar soils of Uttar Pradesh, India indicates that these fungi do occur at higher alkalinity.
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