Plasmid-assisted molecular breeding: new technique for enhanced biodegradation of persistent toxic chemicals

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Science  04 Dec 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4525, pp. 1133-1135
DOI: 10.1126/science.7302584


The persistence of synthetic herbicides such as 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and its release in massive amounts as a herbicide (Agent Orange) have created toxicological problems in many countries. In nature, 2,4,5-T is slowly degraded by cooxidation and is not utilized as a sole source of carbon and energy. The technique of plasmid-assisted molecular breeding has led to the development of bacterial strains capable of totally degrading 2,4,5-T by using it as their sole source of carbon at high concentrations (greater than 1 mg/ml). Spectrophotometry and gas chromatography reveal various intermediates during growth of the culture with 2,4,5-T.