Accession Number:



Engineering Transgenic Plants for the Sustained Containment and In Situ Treatment of Energetic Materials

Descriptive Note:

Final rept.

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Explosives from manufacture and military use now contaminate large areas of land and ground water across the United States and Europe. These energetic compounds are both toxic and recalcitrant to degradation and removing them is a difficult and massive logistical task. While phytoremediation is a technique that potentially offers an environmentally friendly, lowcost alternative to current remediation techniques, the use of this method is hindered by the phytotoxicity of TNT and the low inherent metabolic abilities of plants towards these xenobiotic compounds. Bacterial enzymes capable of detoxifying these energetic compounds have been identified, and further characterization is presented here. These genes have been introduced into the model plant species, tobacco and Arabidopsis where, in combination, they confer tolerance to TNT and the ability to detoxify TNT and degrade RDX. These studies, shown below, provide valuable information on the ability of transgenic plants to remove explosives from soil and ground water. The knowledge gained using these model species has been essential in the production and characterization of more robust tree species, Aspen and poplar hybrids, for both laboratory and field testing. Enterobacter cloacae nitroreductase reduction products We have previously found that expression of Enterobacter cloacae nitroreductase NR confers tolerance to TNT by rapidly transforming TNT to hydroxylamino derivatives 1. These can subsequently be conjugated by the plant to sugars. In work presented here a time-course HPLC-based assay was conducted which revealed that the major product of TNT reduction was the 4-isomer of hydroxylamino-dinitrotoluene 4-HADNT. This was confirmed by comparison of retention times and UVvis spectra to authentic standards of 4-HADNT.

Subject Categories:

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Ammunition and Explosives
  • Solid Wastes and Pollution and Control
  • Water Pollution and Control
  • Ecology

Distribution Statement: