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Genomic studies of explosives biodegradation

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  • Program/Competition: Applied Genomics Programs
  • Status: Closed

Many explosives used by militaries and other industries around the world use nitramine chemicals as the source of the high energy needed during explosions. RDX is a commonly used explosive but it can also contaminate sites in low but toxic levels. The ultimate goal of this research was to improve bioremediation strategies to clean up RDX-contamination of military and industrial sites. This project enabled the development of genomic approaches to analyze soil microbial communities, and showed that the xplA gene, thought to be one of the xpl genes responsible for initiating RDX degradation, alone is not sufficient as a biomarker to assess the potential of RDX-contaminated sites for biodegradation. Two other genes which cluster with xplA might also be involved in RDX degradation: xplR which is predicted to encode a GntR-type transcriptional regulator and a glnAxplB fusion gene which is predicted to encode a bifunctional protein.