Profiles of enzymatic activity in earthworms from zinc, lead and cadmium polluted areas near Olkusz (Poland).Environ Int. 2004 Sep; 30(7):901-10.EI
The aim of the study was to determine whether there are signs of adaptation of soil fauna to a gradient of heavy metal contamination. Earthworms Aporrectodea caliginosa, Lumbricus terrestris and Eisenia fetida were collected during the spring and summer of 2000 and 2001 from meadow sites situated between 2 and 32 km from the Bukowno-Olkusz complex of zinc-lead ore mines and smelters. The heavy metal content in the soil near smelters reaches 10,500 mg/kg (d.w.) for Zn, 2600 mg/kg for Pb and 81.9 mg/kg for Cd. The sites differ with respect to species composition of earthworm community, with A. caliginosa being dominant. Complete data was obtained only for A. caliginosa, since other species were not abundant at all investigated sites during the whole period of investigation. The body burdens of Zn, Pb, Cd and Cu in A. caliginosa reached 1500, 100, 220 and 10 microg/g, respectively, in the vicinity of the smelter (2-4 km), and decreased to 400, 2, 36 and 6 microg/g at the most distant site (32 km). Cadmium and lead content was significantly elevated in the whole body of L. terrestris collected at the site 2.5 km distant from the smelters when compared to more distant sites, while in E. fetida only the body burden of cadmium was elevated at the nearest site compared to the next site of transect. Activities of glutathione peroxidase (GPX; EC 188.8.131.52) against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or cumene hydroperoxide (cumOOH), glutathione reductase (GR; EC 184.108.40.206), glutathione S-transferase (GST; EC 220.127.116.11) and catalase (CAT; EC 18.104.22.168) were assayed in postmitochondrial supernatant obtained from whole body homogenates. Seasonal and annual variations of enzyme activity were reflected by higher GPX activity in the late summer of 2001 in comparison with the spring and summer of 2000. This may reflect severe drought in the spring and summer of 2000. The activity of both GPX isozymes, GR and GST in A. caliginosa and L. terrestris increased with increasing distance from the smelters and reached maximum at sites III and IV (4 and 8 km from the smelters, respectively) and then it decreased in the animals from site V (32 km). These may be the effects of antagonism between the enzyme inducing and enzyme inhibiting action of smelter emissions, a phenomenon known as a hormetic effect. It is postulated here that this effect is of diagnostic value for metal pollution biomonitoring.