Skip main navigation

Plants v Explosives

Pollution from explosives can pose a risk to both the environment and public health. Plants could offer a way of dealing with it.

We have already seen that the combination of biochemistry and synthetic biology methods is offering novel ways to solve problems across the world. Some of these solutions are occurring in ways that is not always obvious.

For example, pollution from explosives poses a risk to both the environment and public health, so it is vitally important that cost-effective ways of dealing with it are found. In the U.S. alone it is estimated that some 10 million hectares of military land is contaminated with munitions constituents. One way to reduce this pollution could be to use plants, as highlighted in this video, which has been produced by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council).

This research was carried out by Professor Neil Bruce at the University of York and it combined the characteristics of certain bacteria, which are able to detoxify different types of explosives, with the larger mass and higher processing ability of plants. This work has resulted in efficient pollution biodegrading plants that are capable of extracting explosive waste left in the land after war or military training. The research won runner-up position in BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year competition. You can read more about this work in this case study.

© UEA and Biochemical Society, 2018. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

This article is from the free online

Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now