Microbial transformation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene
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The manufacture and decommissioning of explosives has generated, and continues to generate, large quantities of waste material whose primary toxic and mutagenic component is 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). The magnitude of this problem has motivated a great deal of research into treatment processes and environmental fate studies, including characterization of microbial transformations of TNT. This work has encompassed studies with mixed cultures and pure cultures of microorganisms derived from either TNT-exposed or unexposed sources, and studies using microorganisms chosen for their known capacities to degrade other pollutants. Several of these studies are discussed with regard to whether they identified a process that may lead to the complete detoxification or mineralization of TNT. Since oxygen can have a significant influence on the types of biochemical reactions that can occur and on the oxidation of intermediates of TNT transformation processes, studies in which oxygen was not excluded are discussed separately from studies conducted under anaerobic conditions.
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