Botanists create plants to clean-up polluted soil

Genetically modified plants developed in the UK could be used to clean up US military testing grounds.

British scientists have given plants bacterial genes that allow them to thrive around TNT and RDX, toxic explosive compounds found in shells, bombs and missiles.

This allows the plants to decontaminate land polluted by left-over residues from test firing.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

TNT and RDX in the soil are difficult to deal with because of their different properties, said lead researcher Dr Liz Rylott, from the University of York’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products.

Speaking at the British Science Festival at the University of Bradford, she said: “TNT sticks to you, it’s like Velcro. It sticks to the soil column and can remain there for decades, and it’s also very toxic.

“RDX is like a chicken vindaloo; it goes straight through to the water system.”

The plants have been engineered to extract nitrogen from RDX and withstand TNT toxicity, while rendering both compounds harmless.

Related topics: