To obtain a bacterial consortium that can degrade azo dyes effectively, a bacterial consortium was enriched that can degrade Metanil yellow effectively. After 6 h, 96.25% Metanil yellow was degraded under static conditions by the bacterial consortium, which was mainly composed of Pseudomonas, Lysinibacillus, Lactococcus, and Dysgonomonas. In particular, Pseudomonas played a main role in the decolorization process. Co-substrate increased the decolorization rate, and yeast powder, peptone, and urea demonstrated excellent effects. The optimal pH value and salinity for the decolorization of azo dyes is 4–7 and 1% salinity respectively. The bacterial consortium can directly degrade many azo dyes, such as direct fast black G and acid brilliant scarlet GR. Azo reductase activity, laccase activity, and lignin peroxidase activity were estimated as the key reductase for decolorization, and Metanil yellow can be degraded into less toxic degradation products through synergistic effects. The degradation pathway of Metanil yellow was analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, which demonstrated that Metanil yellow was cleaved at the azo bond, producing p-aminodiphenylamine and diphenylamine. These findings improved our knowledge of azo-dye-decolorizing microbial resources and provided efficient candidates for the treatment of dye-polluted wastewaters.

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