Lumbricus terrestris L. activity increases the availability of metals and their accumulation in maize and barley.Environ Pollut. 2011 Mar; 159(3):722-8.EP
The effect of the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris L. on metal availability in two mining soils was assessed by means of chemical extraction methods and a pot experiment using crop plants. Results from single and sequential extractions showed that L. terrestris had a slight effect on metal fractionation in the studied soils: only metals bound to the soil organic matter were significantly increased in some cases. However, we found that L. terrestris significantly increased root, shoot and total Pb and Zn concentrations in maize and barley for the soil with the highest concentrations of total and available metals. Specifically, shoot Pb concentration was increased by a factor of 7.5 and 3.9 for maize and barley, respectively, while shoot Zn concentration was increased by a factor of 3.7 and 1.7 for maize and barley, respectively. Our results demonstrated that earthworm activity increases the bioavailability of metals in soils.