, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 291–295

Toxicity of Nickel to the Earthworm and the Applicability of the Neutral Red Retention Assay


  • Janeck J. Scott-Fordsmand
    • Dept. Terrestrial EcologyNational Environmental Research Institute
  • Jason M. Weeks
    • Natural Environment Research CouncilInstitute of Terrestrial Ecology
  • Stephen P. Hopkin
    • Division of Zoology, School of Animal and Microbial SciencesUniversity of Reading

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008824531114

Cite this article as:
Scott-Fordsmand, J.J., Weeks, J.M. & Hopkin, S.P. Ecotoxicology (1998) 7: 291. doi:10.1023/A:1008824531114


The toxic effects of nickel on survival, growth, and reproduction of Eisenia veneta were investigated following 4 weeks of exposure to a nickel-chloride spiked loamy sand soil. The ability of a simple earthworm biomarker, the lysosomal membrane stability of coelomocytes, to reflect nickel exposure was also studied. Nickel caused a significant toxic effect on E.veneta at soil concentrations above 85 mg Ni/kg. Reproduction (cocoon production) was the most sensitive parameter being reduced at soil concentrations above 85 mg Ni/kg (EC10 = 85 mg Ni/kg). Survival of adults was only reduced at concentrations above 245 mg Ni/kg, while adult and cocoon wet weight were not affected by soil nickel concentrations up to 700 mg Ni/kg. The lysosomal membrane stability, measured as neutral-red retention time, was reduced at soil nickel concentrations similar to those that reduced reproduction, and demonstrated a dose-response relationship. The neutral-red retention time showed large individual variation for the earthworms within each exposure concentration. It was concluded that the lysosomal membrane stability, measured as neutral red retention time, has a potential role in risk assessment, but care should be taken conducting this test.

earthwormnickelsoiltoxicologyeisenia veneta
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998