Annelida: Environmental Interactions and Ecotoxicity in Relation to the Earthworm Immune System



Earthworms live in microbial-rich habitats populated with various bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other organisms. Thus, soil represents an environment with high antigenic pressure, and earthworms have developed potent defense mechanisms. Besides the abundant microbiota, earthworms are also highly influenced by various types of organic and inorganic pollutants and by the nanoparticles that reach the soil system. These contaminants affect earthworm physiology and their ability to reproduce, grow, and survive. As a result, earthworms are well suited for the monitoring soil contamination.

As earthworms are able to survive in such hostile conditions, it is interesting to follow their defense strategies. In this chapter, the interactions of immune system and soil microbiota are described. Moreover, the chapter summarizes findings on the environmental effects on both cellular and humoral earthworm immunity.


Microbiome Coelomocytes Eleocytes Amoebocytes Riboflavin Antimicrobial peptide Pattern recognition receptor Ecotoxicity Reactive oxygen species Antioxidant enzymes 



This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 671881 and from Jagiellonian University (K/ZDS/005405).


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary ImmunologyInstitute of Zoology and Biomedical Research, Jagiellonian UniversityKrakowPoland

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