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DNA damage in earthworms from highly contaminated soils : assessing resistance to arsenic toxicity by use of the Comet assay

Button, Mark; Jenkin, Gawen R.T.; Bowman, Karen J.; Harrington, Chris F.; Brewer, Tim S.; Jones, George D.D.; Watts, Mike. 2010 DNA damage in earthworms from highly contaminated soils : assessing resistance to arsenic toxicity by use of the Comet assay. Mutation Research : Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis, 696 (2). 95-100. 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2009.12.009

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Abstract/Summary

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 436 mg kg−1). As-resistant earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus, Dendrodrilus rubidus and L. terrestris) collected from contaminated soils at DGC (203 to 9025 mg kg−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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2009.12.009
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Land Use, Planning and Development
Date made live: 10 Jun 2010 08:29
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/9973

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