For more than 150 years, people around the world have made ample use of the explosive trinitrotoluene, otherwise known as TNT. Its use has had unintended consequences, however: the manufacture, storage and disposal of TNT—which ranks among the most toxic explosives employed by the military—have left large areas of land contaminated and polluted. So far, effective and affordable cleanup technologies have remained out of reach. But new research suggests that help may come from what might seem an unlikely source: the tobacco plant.
Though tobacco derivatives are known for their toxic effects, the plant itself can apparently serve as a potent detoxifier when equipped with a bacterial enzyme known as nitroreductase (NR). According to a report in the December issue of Nature Biotechnology, tobacco plants genetically modified to express NR can tolerate and degrade TNT at levels comparable with those that characterize contaminated sites.
Building on earlier investigations into phytoremediation, the use of plants for contaminant cleanup, Neil C. Bruce of the University of Cambridge and colleagues created the transgenic tobacco and conducted a series of toxicity experiments. The results were striking. Plants grown on a medium containing high concentrations of TNT removed all of the compound within 72 hours. Moreover, "no TNT was extracted from the transgenic seedlings, indicating that it was either completely transformed or sequestered within the plant in a form that may be unextractable," the authors report.
Kate Wong | Scientific American
Mass spectrometry sheds new light on thallium poisoning cold case
14.12.2018 | University of Maryland
Protein involved in nematode stress response identified
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy