TNT resistant plant appears according to articles in Science Shots and ScienceDaily 3 September, and Science Vol. 349 pp. 1072-1075 doi: 10.1126/science.aab3472, 4 September 2015.
Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is used as an explosive in many industrial and military applications. Residual TNT left in the ground in sites is toxic to plants, and is a problem for those trying to restore polluted sites such as old mine sites, waste sites, military test grounds and former battlegrounds.
A group of scientists at the University of York have worked out how TNT poisons plants, and have found a mutant plant that tolerates TNT in the soil. It turns out that TNT reacts with a plant enzyme named MDHAR6 and forms a nitro radical that reacts with atmospheric oxygen, generating reactive superoxide that damages plant cells. The mutant plants lack this enzyme, but they still absorb TNT into their roots.
The researchers suggest mutant plants could be used for bio-remediation on contaminated sites. Now that they understand how this enzyme works, their research could also lead to development of new herbicides. Since MDHAR6 is a plant specific enzyme it may be possible to find chemicals that react with it in the same way as TNT, but can be degraded in the environment. These could be then aimed at specific weed infestations but without causing long term pollution.
Editorial Comment: Yet another classical example of Darwinian Devolution, so before anyone suggests these plants have evolved resistance to TNT we need to look at what really happened – they have lost the use of an enzyme. It is a good example of what mutations really do – they cause loss of function, not evolution of new functions.
The fact that this mutation may be put to use by human beings does not make it a good mutation. This was pointed out by one reader’s comments in the Science news website: “Saving plants from TNT toxicity also disables Vitamin C recycling. Releasing that mutation into the world may be of limited cleverness overall, ye scurvy dogs”.
This degenerate plant, and the fact that we need to clean up chemical pollution, is another reminder that the whole world is going downhill, not evolving upwards. (Ref. botany, environment, biochemistry)
Evidence News vol. 15 No.17
23 September 2015
Creation Research Australia