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Centre for Novel Agricultural Products

Clean Technology

Biodegradation of explosives
Funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) of the US Department of Defense in collaboration with the University of Washington
Professor Neil Bruce (CNAP), Dr Gideon Grogan (YSBL, Department of Chemistry) and Professor Stuart Strand (University of Washington)

Major international concern is growing over the wide-scale contamination of soil and ground water with toxic high explosives. In particular, the explosives hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) and trinitrotoluene (TNT) exist as serious environmental pollutants as a result of the manufacture, deployment and decommissioning of weapons. We have recently isolated a significant number of strains of bacteria from explosives-contaminated land capable of utilising RDX as a sole nitrogen source for growth. From these strains, we have identified a novel cytochrome P450 (XplA) and its partnering reductase (XplB), responsible for the degradation of RDX in Rhodococcus rhodochrous (strain 11Y). XplA is of unique structural organization in that it was found to possess a flavodoxin domain fused to the N-terminus of the P450 domain. The structural features of XplA and its potential use for environmental clean-up are currently being explored.



Latest News

Researchers discovered how catmint evolved to intoxicate cats!

  • Neil Bruce took over as CNAP Director in January 2020
  • CNAP celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 2019!

Ian Graham interviewed on Radio 5 live and podcast

Secret to making renewable energy from wood? The digestive system of the gribble may hold the key!

2 new Networks in Industrial Biotechnology awarded! Congratulations to Ian Graham and Simon McQueen-Mason, who will each lead a phase II NIBB.

New bioeconomy initiative launch in York BioYork established.

Poppy genome decoded DNA code of the opium poppy genome determined.

Poppy (x70)

Strengthening links with India: 2 major new research projects Funding secured by CNAP PIs.

Oilseed rape


CNAP Director, Professor Neil Bruce

CNAP, Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York YO10 5DD, UK