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Vice President for Research & Development


Project TitleUse of Cyanobacterium to Degrade Chitin for Biomass Production
Track Code2011-016
Short Description

Novel use of cyanobacterium and algae in pure culture to degrade chitin for the purposes of biomass production. 


A new type of cyanobacterium and algae have been isolated that can use chitin (one of the most abundant complex organic polymers on the planet) as a sole source of nitrogen. This organisim grows by photosynthesis, so it does not need any added organic carbon for it to degrade chitin. This is unique compared to other chitin degrading microbes, which not only need organic carbon but also need to be supplied with abundant oxygen. This bacterium grows at a wide range of pH values (alkalkine to neutral pH, up to pH 10) and salinities (freshwater to marine). The biomass produced from photosynthetic chitin degradation could be used to generate biodiesel or biofuels.

Tagschitin, cyanobaterium, nitrogen, chitin degrading, biomass, biodiesel, biofuel, fertilizer, algae, microalgae, diatoms
Posted DateMar 31, 2011 4:30 PM

Technology Overview

This novel use of cyanobacterium to degrade chitin has promising applications in the production of biomass for a source of organic fertilizer, production of biofuel, and the degradation of other amine-containing industrial compounds.

  • Inventors: Carrine Blank, Nancy Hinman
  • Intellectual Property Status: Patent Pending
  • Licensing Status: Licensing Available

Licensing Contact

Interested in this technology? Contact The University of Montana, Office of Technology Transfer:, 406.243.6670

Office of Technology Transfer

Director - Joe Fanguy

(406) 243-2148