Effect of heavy metals on coelomocytes of the earthworm Allolobophora chlorotica

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Earthworms are sensitive bioindicators of soil pollution. The aim of present investigations was to study the effects of heavy metals on earthworms and on their coelomocytes involved in the defence reactions. Adult individuals of Allolobophora chlorotica collected in Krakow (K) soil were kept in the laboratory either in the K soil, or were transferred to unpolluted soil from the rural area Sierbowice (S) or to the heavily polluted (Zn>Pb>Cd>Cu) soil from the industrial area, Bukowno (B). They were kept there at 22C for up to 8 weeks. Cocoons and juveniles appeared in S and K soil samples. The number and activity of the coelomocytes of worms maintained in S and K soils were unaffected despite some accumulation of heavy metals in the earthworm tissues. In contrast, in the B soil samples, bioaccumulation of metals was strongest, high mortality of adults was recorded, body mass was reduced, and reproduction completely inhibited. Coelomocytes retrieved from the B soil survivors exhibited significant impairment of pinocytosis and plastic adherence. Perhaps impairment of immune functions contributed to the poor survival under conditions of heavily polluted B soil samples.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1078/0031-4056-00239

Affiliations: 1: Department of Evolutionary Immunology, Institute of Zoology, Jagiellonian University, Ingardena 6, 30-060 Cracow, Poland 2: Department of Ecotoxicology, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 3, 30-387 Cracow, Poland

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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