Brazilian industrialization happened from the 50's on resulting in a great environmental impact due to the accumulation of industrial waste. In this context, an increasing concern about soil and water contamination can be nowadays observed. In order to recover degraded areas, several studies have been performed using chemical, physical and biological methods.Bioremediation process uses organisms to eliminate or reduce the concentration of toxic waste and recover degraded areas. This technique is less expensive and usually produces harmless final products. For their ability to adapt to adverse conditions fungi are being intensively studied to be used in the remediation of soil contaminated with hydrocarbons. Laccase has been increasingly investigated for a variety of biotechnological applications it presents, such as: biodegradation of xenobiotic molecules and industrial wastes, dye bleaching and bioremediation of oil-contaminated soils. Species belonging to the division Basidiomycota, such as the whiterot fungus, are the main laccase producers. Higher plants, bacteria and various representatives of the Ascomycota and their anamorphs are also able to produce it. Previous studies showed that the cuticle of insects may harbor an important number of hydrocarbon-degrading microbes. This project aims to select laccase-producing microorganisms from Attini ants and from areas contaminated with oil residue, in order to isolate strains with potential for future biotechnological application in bioremediation. It is likely that non-described species may be found as well.
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