Journal of Industrial Microbiology

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 418–423 | Cite as

Fungal interactions with the explosive RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine)

  • P Bayman
  • S D Ritchey
  • J W Bennett


The bacterially mediated, anaerobic biodegradation of the explosive RDX (hexahydro 1,3,5 trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) is well established. Reports of successful mineralization of RDX by white rot fungi, and the enhanced transformation of RDX in stirred as compared to static composts, led us to study the possible aerobic role of several filamentous fungi in RDX biodegradation.Cladosporium resinae, Cunninghamella echinulata varelegans, Cyathus pallidus andPhanerochaete chrysosporium were grown in the presence of 50 and 100 μg ml−1 of RDX on a vegetable juice agar. Little inhibition of radial growth was observed, while control cultures with TNT exhibited substantial inhibition. When 100 μg ml−1 of RDX was added to pre-grown mycelia in a nonlignolytic liquid medium, between 12 and 31% was lost after 3 days. In similar experiments using14C-RDX, most of the label remained in the organic fraction, and little or none was found in the aqueous fraction, the volatile fraction or incorporated into cell walls. Although disappearance of RDX was observed for all four species tested, there was no evidence of mineralization. Mixed cultures of microorganisms, including both bacteria and fungi, merit further study as agents for the decontamination of munitions-contaminated soils.


RDX explosives fungal bioremediation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Dilley J, CA Tyson, RJ Spanggord, DP Sasmore, GW Newell and JC Dacre. 1982. Short-term oral toxicity of a 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene and hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine mixture in mice, rats, and dogs. J Toxicol Env Hlth 9: 587–610.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fernando T and SD Aust. 1991. Biodegradation of munition waste, TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene), and RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) byPhanerochaete chrysosporium. In: Emerging Technologies in Hazardous Waste Management (Tedder DW and FG Pohland, eds), pp 214–231, American Chemical Society, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Funk SB, DJ Robers, DL Crawford and RL Crawford. 1993. Initialphase optimization for bioremediation of munition compound-contaminated soils. Appl Environ Microbiol 59: 2171–2177.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Griest WH, AJ Stewart, RL Tyndall, JE Caton, C-H Ho, KS Ironside, WM Caldwell and E Tan. 1993. Chemical and toxicological testing of composted explosives-contaminated soil. Environ Toxicol and Chem 12: 1105–1116.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Guo LY and WH Ko. 1993. Two widely accessible media for growth and reproduction ofPhytophthora andPythium species. Appl Environ Microbiol 59: 2323–2325.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hathaway JA, and CR Buck. 1977. Absence of health hazards associated with RDX manufacture and use. J Occup Med 19: 269–272.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Horvath K and WL Alworth. 1993. Synthesis of14C-labelled hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX). J Labelled Compounds Radiopharm 33: 467–471.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Isbister JD, GL Anspach, JF Kitchens and RC Doyle. 1984. Composting for decontamination of soils containing explosives. Microbiologica 7: 47–73.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kaplan A, DF Berghout and A Peczenik 1965. Human intoxication from RDX. Arch Environ Hlth 10: 877–883.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kaplan DL. 1990. Biotransformation pathways of hazardous energetic organonitro compounds. In: Biotechnology and Biodegradation: Advances in Biotechnology Series, Vol IV (Kamely D, A Chakrabarty and GS Omens, eds), pp 155–181. Portfolio Publishing Co, Woodlands, TX.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kaplan DL. 1994. Biotechnology and biomediation for organic energetic compounds. In: Organic Energetic Compounds (Marinkas P, ed), pp 1–39, Nova Publishers, New York.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ketal WB and JR Hughes. 1972. Toxic encephalopathy with seizures secondary to ingestion of composition C-4. Neurology 22: 871–876.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kitts GL, DP Cunningham and PJ Unkefer. 1994. Isolation of three hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine-degrading species of the family Enterobacteriaceae from nitramine explosive-contaminated soil. Appl Environ Microbiol 60: 4608–4711.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Knepshield JH and WS Stone. 1972. Toxic effects following ingestion of plastic explosive. In: Drug Abuse: Current Concept and Research (Keys WI, ed), pp 296–301, Charles CE Thomas, Springfield, IL.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    McCormick NG, JH Cornell and AM Kaplan. 1981. Biodegradation of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine. Appl Environ Microbiol 42: 817–823.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    McLellan WL, WR Hartley and ME Brower. 1992. Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX). In Drinking Water Health Advisory: Munitions (Roberts WC and WR Hartley, eds), pp 133–180, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mylar CA and W Sysk. 1991. Bioremediation of explosives contaminated soils (scientific questions/engineering realities). In: Environmental Biotechnology for Waste Treatment (Sayler GS et al., eds), pp 137–146, Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Osmon JL and RE Klausmeier. 1972. The microbial degradation of explosives. Dev Indust Microbiol 14: 247–252.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Rosenblatt DH, EP Burrows, WR Mitchell and DL Parmer. 1991. Organic explosives and related compounds. In: Handbook of Environmental Chemistry Vol 3 (Hutzinger O, ed), pp 195–234, Springer Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Schneider NR, LB Sharon and ME Anderson. 1977. Toxicology of cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine: distribution and metabolism in the rat and the miniature swine. Toxicol Appl Pharm 39: 531–541.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Spiker JK, DL Crawford and RL Crawford. 1992. Influence of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) concentration on the degradation of TNT in explosive-contaminated soils by the white rot fungusPhanerochaete chrysosporium. Appl Environ Microbiol 58: 3199–3202.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Stone WJ, TL Paletta, EM Heiman, JI Bruce and JH Knepshield. 1969. Toxic effects following ingestion of C-4 plastic explosive. Arch Intern Med 124: 726–730.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sublette KL, EV Ganapathy and S Schwartz. 1992. Degradation of munition wastes byPhanerochaete chrysosporium. Appl Biochem Biotech 34: 709–723.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Tan EL, DH Ho, WH Griest and RL Tyndall. 1992. Mutagenicity of trinitrotoluene and its metabolites formed during composting. J Toxicol Environ Hlth 36: 165–175.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Turley CP and MA Brewster. 1987. Liquid chromatographic analysis of cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine in biological fluids using solid-phase extraction. J Chromatog 421: 430–433.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Unterman R. 1991. What is theK m of disappearase? In: Environmental Biotechnology for Waste Treatment (Sayler GS, ed), pp 159–162. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Urbanski T. 1967. Chemistry and Technology of Explosives. Vol 3. Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Urbanski T. 1984. Chemistry and Technology of Explosives. Vol 4. Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Von Oettingen WF, DD Donahue, H Yagoda, AR Monaco and MR Harris. 1949. Toxicity and potential dangers of cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (RDX). J Indust Hygiene Toxicol 31: 21–31.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Williams RT, PS Zeigenfuss and WE Sisk. 1992. Composting of explosives and propellant contaminated soils under thermophilic and mesophilic conditions. J Indust Microbiol 9: 137–144.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • P Bayman
    • 1
  • S D Ritchey
    • 2
  • J W Bennett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Puerto RicoRio Piedras
  2. 2.Department of Cell and Molecular BiologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

Personalised recommendations