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Relationships between metal compartmentalization and biomarkers in earthworms exposed to field-contaminated soils

Beaumelle, Léa, Hedde, Mickaël, Vandenbulcke, Franck, Lamy, Isabelle
Environmental pollution 2017 v.224 pp. 185-194
Aporrectodea caliginosa, DNA barcoding, bioavailability, biomarkers, cadmium, catalase, cytochrome-c oxidase, cytosol, earthworms, fractionation, genes, glutathione transferase, glycogen, granules, lead, lipids, metallothionein, soil, toxicity, zinc
Partitioning tissue metal concentration into subcellular compartments reflecting toxicologically available pools may provide good descriptors of the toxicological effects of metals on organisms. Here we investigated the relationships between internal compartmentalization of Cd, Pb and Zn and biomarker responses in a model soil organism: the earthworm. The aim of this study was to identify metal fractions reflecting the toxic pressure in an endogeic, naturally occurring earthworm species (Aporrectodea caliginosa) exposed to realistic field-contaminated soils.After a 21 days exposure experiment to 31 field-contaminated soils, Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in earthworms and in three subcellular fractions (cytosol, debris and granules) were quantified. Different biomarkers were measured: the expression of a metallothionein gene (mt), the activity of catalase (CAT) and of glutathione-s-transferase (GST), and the protein, lipid and glycogen reserves. Biomarkers were further combined into an integrated biomarker index (IBR).The subcellular fractionation provided better predictors of biomarkers than the total internal contents hence supporting its use when assessing toxicological bioavailability of metals to earthworms. The most soluble internal pools of metals were not always the best predictors of biomarker responses. metallothionein expression responded to increasing concentrations of Cd in the insoluble fraction (debris + granules). Protein and glycogen contents were also mainly related to Cd and Pb in the insoluble fraction. On the other hand, GST activity was better explained by Pb in the cytosolic fraction. CAT activity and lipid contents variations were not related to metal subcellular distribution. The IBR was best explained by both soluble and insoluble fractions of Pb and Cd.This study further extends the scope of mt expression as a robust and specific biomarker in an ecologically representative earthworm species exposed to field-contaminated soils. The genetic lineage of the individuals, assessed by DNA barcoding with cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, did not influence mt expression.