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Department of Biological Sciences


The use of insensitive munitions such as 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) is rapidly increasing and is expected to replace conventional munitions in the near future. Various NTO treatment technologies are being developed for the treatment of wastewater from industrial munition facilities. This is the first study to explore the potential phytoremediation of industrial NTO-wastewater using vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides L.). Here, we present evidence that vetiver can effectively remove NTO from wastewater, and also translocated NTO from root to shoot. NTO was phytotoxic and resulted in a loss of plant biomass and chlorophyll. The metabolomic analysis showed significant differences between treated and control samples, with the upregulation of specific pathways such as glycerophosphate metabolism and amino acid metabolism, providing a glimpse into the stress alleviation strategy of vetiver. One of the mechanisms of NTO stress reduction was the excretion of solid crystals. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis confirmed the presence of NTO crystals in the plant exudates. Further characterization of the exudates is in progress to ascertain the purity of these crystals, and if vetiver could be used for phytomining NTO from industrial wastewater.

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( licenses/by/4.0/). Publisher’s version of record:

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Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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