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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Dec;20(12):8382-90. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1689-7. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Toxicological responses of earthworm (Eisenia fetida) exposed to metal-contaminated soils.

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State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of the Environment, Nanjing University, 163 Xianlin Avenue, Nanjing, 210023, Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the toxicological responses of earthworm (Eisenia fetida) induced by field-contaminated, metal-polluted soils. Biochemical responses and DNA damage of earthworm exposed to two multi-metal-contaminated soils in a steel industry park and a natural reference soil in Zijin Mountain for 2, 7, 14, and 28 days were studied. Results showed that three enzyme activities, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), acetylcholinesterase (AChE), and cellulase, in earthworm in metal-contaminated soils were significantly different from those of the reference soil. Cellulase and AChE were more sensitive than SOD to soil contamination. The Olive tail moment of the comet assay after 2-day exposure increased 56.5 and 552.0 % in two contaminated soils, respectively, compared to the reference soil. Our findings show that cellulase and DNA damage levels can be used as potential biomarkers for exposure of earthworm to metal-polluted soils.

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