Background : Environmental pollution is one of the major problems that the world is facing today. Several approaches have been taken, from physical and chemical methods to biotechnological strategies (e.g. the use of oxidoreductases). Oxidative enzymes from microorganisms offer eco-friendly, cost–effective processes amenable to biotechnological applications, such as in industrial dye decolorization. The aim of this study was to screen marine-derived fungal strains isolated from three coastal areas in Tunisia to identify laccase-like activities, and to produce and characterize active cell-free supernatants of interest for dye decolorization.
Results : Following the screening of 20 fungal strains isolated from the harbors of Sfax and Monastir (Tunisia), five strains were identified that displayed laccase-like activities. Molecular-based taxonomic approaches identified these strains as belonging to the species Trichoderma asperellum , Stemphylium lucomagnoense and Aspergillus nidulans . Among these five isolates, one T. asperellum strain ( T. asperellum 1) gave the highest level of secreted oxidative activities, and so was chosen for further studies. Optimization of the growth medium for liquid cultures was first undertaken to improve the level of laccase-like activity in culture supernatants. Finally, the culture supernatant of T. asperellum 1 decolorized different synthetic dyes belonging to diverse dye families, in the presence or absence of 1-hydroxybenzotriazole (HBT) as a mediator.
Conclusions : The optimal growth conditions to produce laccase-like active cell-free supernatants from T. asperellum 1 were 1.8 mM CuSO 4 as an inducer, 1% NaCl to mimic a seawater environment and 3% sucrose as a carbon source. The culture supernatant of T. asperellum 1 effectively decolorized different synthetic dyes belonging to diverse chemical classes, and the presence of HBT as a mediator improved the decolorization process.