Leaf Litter Breakdown by Two Earthworm species—Eisenia foetida (Exotic) and Perionyx excavatus (Indigenous) Under Laboratory Condition

  • Ruth LaldintharEmail author
  • M. S. Dkhar


A comparative study was performed to evaluate the breakdown of leaf litter of two broad-leaved tree species, i.e. Polyalthia longifolia and Rhododendron arboreum by an exotic earthworm species Eisenia foetida and an indigenous earthworm species Perionyx excavatus under laboratory condition. Methods of Haimi and Huhta (Biol Fertil Soil 10:178–183, 1990) were followed for the present study. The rate of decay, percent cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin contents of the decomposing leaf litter of P. longifolia and R. arboreum were found to be higher in the sets treated with the two different earthworm species as compared to that of untreated sets where no earthworm was added. Though there was not much difference in the rate of leaf litter breakdown by two different earthworm species, the rate of litter breakdown by the exotic earthworm, E. foetida, was slightly higher as compared to the indigenous earthworm P. excavatus. Both the selected leaf litters treated with the different earthworm species exhibited significant positive correlations between percent biomass remaining, cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin contents (p ≤ .001). Significant variation was observed in hemicelluloses of leaf litters in sets treated with the two different earthworm species and in the untreated sets. It can be concluded that the indigenous earthworm species P. excavatus also has a high potential for leaf litter breakdown. It can act as a potential candidate in vermicompost technology—which will be of immense help in wastes management, resource recovery and environmental conservation.


Eisenia foetida Perionyx excavatus Leaf litter breakdown 


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Microbial Ecology Laboratory, Department of BotanyNorth-Eastern Hill UniversityShillongIndia

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