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