Microbially mediated biodegradation of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5- triazine by extracellular electron shuttling compounds

Man Jae Kwon, Kevin T. Finneran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The potential for humic substances to stimulate the reduction of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) was investigated. This study describes a novel approach for the remediation of RDX-contaminated environments using microbially mediated electron shuttling. Incubations without cells demonstrated that reduced AQDS transfers electrons directly to RDX, which was reduced without significant accumulation of the nitroso intermediates. Three times as much reduced AQDS (molar basis) was needed to completely reduce RDX. The rate and extent of RDX reduction differed greatly among electron shuttle/acceptor amendments for resting cell suspensions of Geobacter metallireducens and G. sulfurreducens with acetate as the sole electron donor. AQDS and purified humic substances stimulated the fastest rate of RDX reduction. The nitroso metabolites did not significantly accumulate in the presence of AQDS or humic substances. RDX reduction in the presence of poorly crystalline Fe(III) was relatively slow and metabolites transiently accumulated. However, adding humic substances or AQDS to Fe(III)-containing incubations increased the reduction rates. Cells of G. metallireducens alone reduced RDX; however, the rate of RDX reduction was slow relative to AQDS-amended incubations. These data suggest that extracellular electron shuttle-mediated RDX transformation is not organism specific but rather is catalyzed by multiple Fe(III)- and humic-reducing species. Electron shuttle-mediated RDX reduction may eventually become a rapid and effective cleanup strategy in both Fe(III)-rich and Fe(III)-poor environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5933-5941
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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