The biodegradation of dyes remains one of the biggest challenges of textile wastewater. Azo dyes are one of the most commonly employed dye classes, and biological treatment processes tend to generate recalcitrant aromatic amines, which are more toxic than the parent dye molecule. This study aimed to isolate bacterial strains with the capacity to degrade both the azo dye and the resulting aromatic amines towards the development of a simple and reliable treatment approach for dye-laden wastewaters. A mixed bacterial enrichment was first developed in an anaerobic-aerobic lab-scale sequencing batch reactor (SBR) fed with a synthetic textile wastewater containing the model textile azo dye Acid Red 14 (AR14). Eighteen bacterial strains were isolated from the SBR, including members of the Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Oerskovia genera, Oerskovia paurometabola presenting the highest decolorization capacity (91% after 24 h in static anaerobic culture). Growth assays supported that this is a facultative bacterium, and decolorization batch tests with 20–100 mg AR14 L−1 in a synthetic textile wastewater supplemented with yeast extract indicated that O. paurometabola has a high color removal capacity for a significant range of AR14 concentrations. In addition, a model typically used to describe biodegradation of xenobiotic compounds was adjusted to the results, to predict AR14 biodegradation time profiles at different initial concentrations. HPLC analysis confirmed that decolorization occurred through azo bond reduction under anaerobic conditions, the azo dye being completely reduced after 24 h of anaerobic incubation for the range of concentrations tested. Interestingly, partial (up to 63%) removal of one of the resulting aromatic amines (4-amino-naphthalene-1-sulfonic acid) was observed when subsequently subjected to aerobic conditions. Overall, this work showed the azo dye biodegradation potential of specific bacterial strains isolated from mixed culture bioreactors, reporting for the first time the decolorization capacity of an Oerskovia sp. with further biodegradation of a recalcitrant sulfonated aromatic amine metabolite.
- Aromatic amine biodegradation
- Azo dye biodegradation
- Decolorization kinetics
- Oerskovia sp.
- Textile wastewater