Understanding pesticide metabolism in plants and microorganisms is necessary for pesticide development, for safe and efficient use, as well as for developing pesticide bioremediation strategies for contaminated soil and water. Pesticide biotransformation may occur via multistep processes known as metabolism or cometabolism. Cometabolism is the biotransformation of an organic compound that is not used as an energy source or as a constitutive element of the organism. Individual reactions of degradation–detoxification pathways include oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, and conjugation. Metabolic pathway diversity depends on the chemical structure of the xenobiotic compound, the organism, environmental conditions, metabolic factors, and the regulating expression of these biochemical pathways. Knowledge of these enzymatic processes, especially concepts related to pesticide mechanism of action, resistance, selectivity, tolerance, and environmental fate, has advanced our understanding of pesticide science, and of plant and microbial biochemistry and physiology. There are some fundamental similarities and differences between plant and microbial pesticide metabolism. In this review, directed to researchers in weed science, we present concepts that were discussed at a symposium of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1999 and in the subsequent book Pesticide Biotransformation in Plants and Microorganism: Similarities and Divergences, edited by J. C. Hall, R. E. Hoagland, and R. M. Zablotowicz, and published by Oxford University Press, 2001.
Nomenclature: American Chemical Society; fenchlorazole-ethyl; glutathione; glutathione-S-transferase; naphthalic anhydride; polyaromatic hydrocarbons; polychlorinated biphenyls; reductive dehalogenation; trichloroethylene.