Superfund Research Program
Phytoremediation of Toxic Wastes
Project Leader: Lee A. Newman (University of South Carolina)
Grant Number: P42ES004696
Funding Period: 1995 - 2006
Final Progress Reports
Year: 2005 1999
Recent work involves the incorporation of rabbit cytochrome 2E1 into poplar trees. Project investigators feel that this type of genetically engineered plant would be much more acceptable to the public than the current gene, 2E1 that is obtained from the human liver. These types of transformed plants, particularly poplar trees, should be very useful in remediating sites contaminated by compounds such as trichloroethylene and carbon tetrachloride. In tobacco plants, the gene raised enzyme levels to such an extent that the plants performed approximately 600 times better than normal controls. We would like to get this gene into poplar trees. Researchers are also attempting to clone cytochrome 2A6, which has been reported to have activity against methyl-tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE). Trees containing this gene should be able to handle and catabolize relatively high levels of MTBE, a very widespread pollutant, which is currently the subject of intense interest.