DNA damage in earthworms from highly contaminated soils: assessing resistance to arsenic toxicity by use of the Comet assay.Mutat Res. 2010 Feb; 696(2):95-100.MR
Earthworms native to the former mine site of Devon Great Consols (DGC), UK reside in soils highly contaminated with arsenic (As). These earthworms are considered to have developed a resistance to As toxicity. The mechanisms underlying this resistance however, remain unclear. In the present study, non-resistant, commercially sourced Lumbricus terrestris were exposed to a typical DGC soil in laboratory mesocosms. The earthworms bio-accumulated As from the soil and incurred DNA-damage levels significantly above those observed in the control mesocosm (assessed using the Comet assay). A dose response was observed between DNA damage (% tail DNA) and As concentration in soil (control, 98, 183, 236, 324 and 436mgkg(-1)). As-resistant earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus, Dendrodrilus rubidus and L. terrestris) collected from contaminated soils at DGC (203 to 9025mgkg(-1) As) had also bio-accumulated high levels of As from their host soils, yet demonstrated low levels of DNA damage compared with earthworms from uncontaminated sites. The results demonstrate that the As-contaminated soils at DGC are genotoxic to non-native earthworms and much less so to earthworms native to DGC, thus providing further evidence of an acquired resistance to As toxicity in the native earthworms.