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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 Aug;76(2):267-77. Epub 2007 May 30.

TNT biotransformation: when chemistry confronts mineralization.

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Institute of Environment and Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Bygningstorvet, Bldg 115, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark.


Our understanding of the genetics and biochemistry of microbial 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) biotransformation has advanced significantly during the past 10 years, and biotreatment technologies have developed. In this review, we summarize this new knowledge. A number of enzyme classes involved in TNT biotransformation include the type I nitroreductases, the old yellow enzyme family, a respiration-associated nitroreductase, and possibly ring hydroxylating dioxygenases. Several strains harbor dual pathways: nitroreduction (reduction of the nitro group in TNT to a hydroxylamino and/or amino group) and denitration (reduction of the aromatic ring of TNT to Meisenheimer complexes with nitrite release). TNT can serve as a nitrogen source for some strains, and the postulated mechanism involves ammonia release from hydroxylamino intermediates. Field biotreatment technologies indicate that both stimulation of microbial nitroreduction and phytoremediation result in significant and permanent immobilization of TNT via its metabolites. While the possibility for TNT mineralization was rekindled with the discovery of TNT denitration and oxygenolytic and respiration-associated pathways, further characterization of responsible enzymes and their reaction mechanisms are required.

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