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Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

Arsenic resistance and cycling in earthworms residing at a former gold mine in Canada.


PMID 22683483

Abstract

Earthworms (Lumbricus castaneous and Dendrodrilus rubidus), their host soils and leaf litter were collected from a former gold mine with widespread arsenic (As) contamination in Nova Scotia, Canada and determined for total and speciated As. Resistance to As toxicity was investigated by measurement of DNA damage in exposed earthworm populations using the comet assay. Arsenobetaine (AB) was observed at low concentration in the earthworms but not in the host soil or leaf litter. Several different organoarsenic species were observed in the leaf litter and only inorganic As was found in the host soils. The results suggest that 1) adaptation to As toxicity in earthworms is widespread and not particular to a single species, 2) AB originates in the earthworm and not the consumed soil or leaf litter and 3) as previously hypothesised (Button et al., 2010), biotransformation of inorganic As to AB is not likely involved in the adaptation.

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