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Comparative Study of Biochemical Responses in Three Species of Earthworms Exposed to Pesticide and Metal Contaminated Soil

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the biochemical responses in three earthworm species, Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx ceylanensis and Perionyx excavatus induced by exposure to pesticide (carbaryl) and metal (lead) in soil. Earthworms were exposed to increasing concentrations of carbaryl (12, 25 and 50 mg kg −1) and Pb (75, 150 and 300 mg kg −1) in the soil for different periods of time and the biochemical changes were determined. The protein content was slightly increased in E. eugeniae, P. ceylanensis when exposed to the lower concentration of Pb (75 mg kg−1). But decreased protein content was observed in P. excavatus at the higher concentration of carbaryl (50 mg kg−1), and with exposure to 300 mg kg−1 Pb in P. ceylanensis. The changes in the levels of antioxidant enzymes glutathione-S-transferase (GST), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), reduced glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) were used as functional biomarkers to determine the effect of pesticides and metals on earthworms. Among these, GST exhibited more sensitive response to both carbaryl and Pb as compared to the control. Other antioxidant enzymes showed little variation at the time of exposure. The results of our study suggested that both carbaryl and Pb induced the production of Reactive oxygen species (ROS) by causing oxidative damage to cells. Due to an adaptive response of earthworms in contaminated soils, they could be used as significant biomarkers to asses the toxicity in the environment of the soil ecosystem. This is the first report on the comparative study of antioxidant enzyme activities in three earthworm species under normal and stress induced conditions.

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Acknowledgments

Authors sincerely acknowledge Prof. (Mrs.) Thilagavathy Daniel, Department of Biology, Gandhigram Rural Institute, Gandhigram for her keen interest in the study and for valuable suggestions.

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Correspondence to Venkadapathi Jeyanthi.

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Jeyanthi, V., Paul, J.A.J., Selvi, B.K. et al. Comparative Study of Biochemical Responses in Three Species of Earthworms Exposed to Pesticide and Metal Contaminated Soil. Environ. Process. 3, 167–178 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40710-016-0131-9

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Keywords

  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • Carbaryl
  • Coelomic fluid
  • Earthworms
  • Heavy metals