Effects of Nickel, Zinc, and Lead-Contaminated Soil on Burrowing Rate and Coelomocytes of the Earthworm, Allolobophora chlorotica

Department of Evolutionary Immunobiology, Institute of Zoology, Jagiellonian University, R. Ingardena 6, 30-060 Kraków, Poland.
Folia Biologica (Impact Factor: 0.88). 07/2011; 59(3-4):91-7. DOI: 10.3409/fb59_3-4.91-97
Source: PubMed


We have shown previously that stubby worms Allolobophora chlorotica are sensitive to environmental stress, including metal-polluted soil. In order to discern the mechanisms of this sensitivity, adult (clitellate) Al. chlorotica were exposed in the laboratory to soil samples soaked with water (control) or Ni (1 and 2 mg/kg), Zn (1.25 and 2.5 g/kg) or Pb (5 and 10 g/kg) chlorides. Worms avoided contact with metal contaminants by prolonging burrowing time in metal-soaked samples, especially in the case of lead. Higher concentrations of the investigated metals were lethal for worms. During a 3 week exposure to lower metal concentrations, nickel and lead readily accumulated in the bodies of worms while zinc was efficiently regulated. However, body weights and numbers of non-invasively retrieved free coelomocytes (consisting of amoebocytes and riboflavin-loaded eleocytes) were significantly lower only in zinc-exposed worms. We assume that zinc regulation in worm bodies is more energy-demanding than nickel or lead bioaccumulation, thus this might be responsible for inhibition of the body gain and diminution of immunocompetent cells in zinc-exposed earthworms. Alternatively, missing free coelomocytes may actually be involved in Zn trafficking and removal through nephridia and/or in the formation of multicellular brown bodies, since metal can unbalance host/bacteria relationships.

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