Phytodetoxification of the environmental pollutant and explosive 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene

Elizabeth L. Rylott*, Vanda Gunning, Kyriakos Tzafestas, Helen Sparrow, Emily J. Johnston, Andrew S. Brentnall, Jennifer R. Potts, Neil C. Bruce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our recent study highlights the role of 2 glutathione transferases (GSTs) in the detoxification of the environmental pollutant, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) in Arabidopsis thaliana. TNT is toxic and highly resistant to biodegradation in the environment, raising both health and environmental concerns. Two GSTs, GST-U24 and GST-U25, are upregulated in response to TNT treatment, and expressed predominantly in the root tissues; the site of TNT location following uptake. Plants overexpressing GST-U24 and GST-U25 exhibited significantly enhanced ability to withstand and detoxify TNT, and remove TNT from contaminated soil. Analysis of the catalytic activities of these 2 enzymes revealed that they form 3 TNT-glutathionyl products. Of particular interest is 2-glutathionyl-4,6-dinitrotoluene as this represents a potentially favorable step toward subsequent degradation and mineralization of TNT. We demonstrate how GSTs fit into what is already known about pathways for TNT detoxification, and discuss the short and longer-term fate of TNT conjugates in planta.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere977714
JournalPlant Signaling and Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2014


  • 2
  • 4
  • 6-trinitrotoluene
  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Environmental pollutant
  • Glutathione transferases
  • TNT
  • Xenobiotic detoxification

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