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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Dec;71(12):8265-72.

Mineralization of the cyclic nitramine explosive hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine by Gordonia and Williamsia spp.

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U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Rd., Vicksburg, MS 39180, USA.


Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) is a cyclic nitroamine explosive that is a major component in many military high-explosive formulations. In this study, two aerobic bacteria that are capable of using RDX as the sole source of carbon and nitrogen to support their growth were isolated from surface soil. These bacterial strains were identified by their fatty acid profiles and 16S ribosomal gene sequences as Williamsia sp. KTR4 and Gordonia sp. KTR9. The physiology of each strain was characterized with respect to the rates of RDX degradation and [U-14C]RDX mineralization when RDX was supplied as a sole carbon and nitrogen source in the presence and absence of competing carbon and nitrogen sources. Strains KTR4 and KTR9 degraded 180 microM RDX within 72 h when RDX served as the only added carbon and nitrogen source while growing to total protein concentrations of 18.6 and 16.5 microg/ml, respectively. Mineralization of [U-14C]RDX to 14CO2 was 30% by strain KTR4 and 27% by KTR9 when RDX was the only added source of carbon and nitrogen. The addition of (NH4)2SO4- greatly inhibited KTR9's degradation of RDX but had little effect on that of KTR4. These are the first two pure bacterial cultures isolated that are able to use RDX as a sole carbon and nitrogen source. These two genera possess different physiologies with respect to RDX mineralization, and each can serve as a useful microbiological model for the study of RDX biodegradation with regard to physiology, biochemistry, and genetics.

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