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Biotransformation of the insensitive munition constituents 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) and 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN) by aerobic methane-oxidizing consortia and pure cultures

APTIM Authors/Contributors


We present the first report of biotransformation of 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) and 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN), replacements for the explosives 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) and 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), respectively, by methane-oxidizing cultures under aerobic conditions. Two consortia, dominated by Methylosinus spp., degraded both compounds with transient production of reduced NTO products, and non-stoichiometric production of reduced DNAN products. No release of inorganic nitrogen was observed with either compound, indicating that NTO and DNAN may be utilized as nitrogen sources by these consortia. The pure culture Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b also degraded both compounds. Degradation was observed in the presence of acetylene (a known inhibitor of methane monooxygenase; MMO) when methanol was supplied, indicating that MMO was not involved. Furthermore, studies with purified soluble MMO (sMMO) from OB3b indicated that neither compound was a substrate for sMMO. Degradation was inhibited by 2-iodosobenzoic acid, but not by dicoumarol, suggesting involvement of an oxygen- and dicoumarol-insensitive (nitro)reductase. These results indicate methanotrophs can aerobically degrade NTO and DNAN via one or more (nitro)reductases, with sMMO serving a supporting role deriving reducing equivalents from methane. This finding is important because methanotrophic bacteria are widely dispersed, and may represent a previously unrecognized route of NTO and DNAN biotransformation in aerobic environments.

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