Recently, scientists at the University of York have discovered another use of a gene found in common fruit flies. This gene, found in the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, can be successfully expressed in a plant, and thus used to detoxify land contaminated with TNT. The plant specifically that this gene was tested on was Arabidopsis, a member of the cabbage family. Plants given the ability to express this gene were found to be more resistant to TNT and were better able to remove it from contaminated soil than wild-type plants without the gene.
The gene found in fruit flies, glutathione transferase, DmGSTE6, contains an enzyme that attaches to the TNT molecule itself and has the ability to make it less toxic through modification; making it less toxic to the environment in general, not just the plant. Trinitrotoluene, more commonly referred to as TNT, is an explosive that has been manufactured and used in waste sites, mines and war zones. Any remnant of TNT resists being broken down by microbes and remains in the soil for decades. It then lingers in the roots of plants, and inhibits its growth, as well as its development.
I found this article to be extremely interesting for a multitude of reasons. I always think it is fascinating to see the scientific chain reaction of something that happened so many years ago. I also am curious to see the future of genetic engineering and just how far we will be able to use these techniques. With how far we've already come, I have no doubt that we will be able to improve and modify many problems in the environment.