There is clearly a pressing need for new approaches to bioremediation of explosives-contaminated soils and sediments. There is increasing evidence that co-metabolically produced products of the incomplete degradation of explosive compounds such as TNT are not as tightly bound to clays and organic matter as was first thought. Their presence in an ecosystem can be detected by bioassay even though, in terms of chemical analysis, they have disappeared. Current techniques have failed to fully exploit the capacity of fungi to mineralize these compounds via naturally occurring pathways. This appears to be because a limited selection of strains and species of fungi have been screened for their explosive degrading capability. We have an incomplete understanding of metabolic pathways involved in the strains that have been selected. We do not fully understand the microbial ecology of these fungi when used in bioremedia-tion. Further work is needed within all three of these areas before large scale, field-based trials are undertaken that may create as many challenges as they overcome.
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