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A sensitive optical-based test method for the locomotor activity of earthworms

Xu, Ting, Zhao, Wanting, Miao, Juanjuan, Zhang, Bin, Yang, Xinyue, Sheng, G. Daniel, Yin, Daqiang
The Science of the total environment 2020 v.715 pp. 136966
earthworms, ecotoxicology, lindane, locomotion, models, octopamine, phenotype, serotonin, soil
The outdated test methodologies for terrestrial animals have limited the progress of soil ecotoxicology to some extent. To improve the behavioral testing of earthworms, a terrestrial model animal, a sensitive optical-based method for detecting locomotor activity was established. The method measured the fine quantified position offsets of each earthworm in place of a conventional overall response rate, which provided the feasibility for accurate analyses and comparisons. By setting appropriate thresholds, the time proportions of medium and burst states (mid-burdur%) could be an optimized endpoint with an ideal balance in output stability and sensitivity. In addition, we chose the head-end, which is the most flexible part of the earthworm, other than whole body to further elevate the sensitivity in indicating the changed traits. Using octopamine, serotonin, and a serial-dose of lindane exposure, the practice credibility of the test method was validated. Our developed locomotor test method overcame the innate characteristics of the earthworm, and was expected to provide a powerful phenotypic tool for ecological and ecotoxicological studies using earthworms and similar invertebrates.