Wasteful Azo Dyes as a Source of Biologically Active Building Blocks

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2021 Jun 15;9:672436. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.672436. eCollection 2021.


In this work, an environment-friendly enzymatic strategy was developed for the valorisation of dye-containing wastewaters. We set up biocatalytic processes for the conversion of azo dyes representative of the main classes used in the textile industry into valuable aromatic compounds: aromatic amines, phenoxazinones, phenazines, and naphthoquinones. First, purified preparations of PpAzoR azoreductase efficiently reduced mordant, acid, reactive, and direct azo dyes into aromatic amines, and CotA-laccase oxidised these compounds into phenazines, phenoxazinones, and naphthoquinones. Second, whole cells containing the overproduced enzymes were utilised in the two-step enzymatic conversion of the model mordant black 9 dye into sodium 2-amino-3-oxo-3H-phenoxazine-8-sulphonate, allowing to overcome the drawbacks associated with the use of expensive purified enzymes, co-factors, or exquisite reaction conditions. Third, cells immobilised in sodium alginate allowed recycling the biocatalysts and achieving very good to excellent final phenoxazine product yields (up to 80%) in water and with less impurities in the final reaction mixtures. Finally, one-pot systems using recycled immobilised cells co-producing both enzymes resulted in the highest phenoxazinone yields (90%) through the sequential use of static and stirring conditions, controlling the oxygenation of reaction mixtures and the successive activity of azoreductase (anaerobic) and laccase (aerobic).

Keywords: aromatic amines; azoreductase; laccases; phenazines; phenoxazinones; whole-cell catalysis.