Australian Research Organization Developing an Enzyme-Based Bioremediation Treatment for Atrazine

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. CSIRO has successfully tested an enzyme to treat water contaminated with atrazine, as summarized in a CSIRO press release that is described below. For the full details, see: This technology was presented at the 2010 TPSA Annual Conference and CSIRO scientists published a peer-reviewed article on it in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in April 2009.

The successful trial was held in the Burdekin sugar growing region in Queensland and the results are very promising for reducing contamination in run-off that reaches the Great Barrier Reef. “When we added the enzyme to a holding dam filled with run-off contaminated with atrazine, more than 90 per cent of it was removed in less than four hours,” says CSIRO Entomology’s Dr Colin Scott.

Collaborators in the trial were the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, James Cook University and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The DPI&F’s Rob Milla, who organized access to the trial farms and assisted in sample collection, is also pleased with the results. “These initial field test results are very encouraging and our next steps will be to apply the enzyme in standard operating situations to ensure there are no impediments, from a farmer perspective, to its easy and effective use,” he says.

CSIRO Entomology’s General Manager, Business Development and Commercialization, Cameron Begley, says the enzyme also works well against a range of other triazine herbicides and, once in commercial production, would benefit farmers and water consumers wherever triazines are used. The CSIRO bioremediation team is now focusing on improving the production and application of the enzyme, to provide farmers and water consumers around the world with a cost effective bioremediation product to address triazine contamination. “To facilitate this, CSIRO is actively seeking commercial partners to collaborate with,” Mr. Begley says.