A recent study has found three Caribbean plants that are not only resistant to high levels of trinitrotoluene (TNT) but can also completely remove it from aqueous media in under 48 hours.
A recent study has found three Caribbean plants that are not only resistant to high levels of trinitrotoluene (TNT) but can also completely remove it from aqueous media in under 48 hours.1
A team from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez investigated the ability of Rubia tinctorum, Lippia dulcis and Spermacoce remota to remove TNT. Plantlets of each were added to flasks containing solutions of TNT and samples were taken at timed intervals for high performance liquid chromatography analysis.
Rubia tinctorum and Lippia dulcis removed nearly 100% of the TNT from the medium, while Spermacoce remota completely removed TNT from the media in under 48 hours. Part of the TNT was physically removed from the culture media by evaporation.
The main mechanism for removal is via adsorption through the roots, but once adsorbed Spermacoce remota works in a different way. Future work on this will be carried out to investigate the reasons behind this behaviour.
TNT is a serious toxic contaminant and is present at both military sites and war zones around the world. More work will also be carried out using the plants in TNT contaminated soil, with initial results looking promising.
1 S.N. Correa-Torres et al., J Environ. Monit., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/c1em10602c