In contrast to TNT, RDX and HMX are intrinsically less recalcitrant. Once there is a change in the ring structure, for example by cleavage of a N-NO2 bond or C-C bond, the ring structure undergoes spontaneous decomposition, producing small nitrate and carbon containing compounds that are easily mineralized by many species of microorganisms (Hawari 2000). However, there is only a limited literature on biodegradation of cyclic triamines. Bayman et al. (1995); Bayman and Redkar (1997) report that mycelium of P. chrysogenum, Cladosporium resinae, Cyathus pallides, and Cunninghamella echinulata var elegans were not inhibited by 50-100 mg/ml RDX, and that the RDX "disappeared" when incubated with these fungal species.
However, it was not possible to trace the breakdown products or to determine if the disappearance was due to mineralization reactions or bio-transformations. Fernando and Aust (1991) reported that P. chrysogenum could mineralize RDX, and they provided some evidence that a free-radical chain mechanism was involved in the degradation, but again were unable to identify the initial products of decomposition.
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