Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Rupali Datta


Ramakrishna Wusirika


Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) is a nitramine compound that has been used heavily by the military as an explosive. Manufacturing, use, and disposal of RDX have led to several contamination sites across the United States. RDX is both persistent in the environment and a threat to human health, making its remediation vital. The use of plants to extract RDX from the soil and metabolize it once it is in the plant tissue, is being considered as a possible solution. In the present study, the tropical grass Chrysopogon zizanioides was grown hydroponically in the presence RDX at 3 different concentration levels: 0.3, 1.1, and 2.26 ppm. The uptake of RDX was quantified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of media samples taken every 6 hr during the first 24 hr and then daily over a 30-day experimental period. A rapid decrease in RDX concentration in the media of both controls and plant treatments was seen within the first 18 hours of the experiment with the greatest loss in RDX over time occurring within the first 6 hours of exposure. The loss was similar in both controls and plant exposures and possibly attributed to rapid uptake by the containers. A plant from one treatment at each of the three concentrations was harvested at Day 10, 20 and 30 throughout the experiment and extracted to determine the localization of RDX within the tissue and potentially identify any metabolites on the basis of differing retention times. Of the treatments containing 0.3, 1.1, and 2.26 ppm RDX, 13.1%, 18.3%, and 24.2% respectively, was quantified in vetiver extracts, with the majority of the RDX being localized to the roots. All plants not yet harvested were harvested on Day 30 of the experiment. A total of three plants exposed to each concentration level as well as the control, were extracted and analyzed with HPLC to determine amount of RDX taken up, localization of RDX within the plant tissue, and potentially identify any metabolites. Phytotoxicity of RDX to vetiver was also monitored. While a loss in biomass was observed in plants exposed to all the different concentrations of RDX, control plants grown in media not exposed to RDX showed the greatest biomass loss of all the treatments. There was also little variation in chlorophyll content between the different concentration treatments with RDX. This preliminary greenhouse study of RDX uptake 10 by Chrysopogon zizanioides will help indicate the potential ability of vetiver to serve as a plant system in the phytoremediation of RDX.

Included in

Biology Commons