The effect of anthropogenic arsenic contamination on the earthworm microbiome

Pass, Daniel Antony; Morgan, Andrew John; Read, Daniel S.; Field, Dawn; Weightman, Andrew J.; Kille, Peter. 2015 The effect of anthropogenic arsenic contamination on the earthworm microbiome. Environmental Microbiology, 17 (6). 1884-1896.

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Earthworms are globally distributed and perform essential roles for soil health and microbial structure. We have investigated the effect of an anthropogenic contamination gradient on the bacterial community of the keystone ecological species Lumbricus rubellus through utilising 16S rRNA pyrosequencing to establish the microbiome of the host and surrounding soil. The earthworm-associated microbiome differs from the surrounding environment which appears to be a result of both filtering and stimulation likely linked to the altered environment associated with the gut micro-habitat (neutral pH, anoxia and increased carbon substrates). We identified a core earthworm community comprising Proteobacteria (~50%) and Actinobacteria (~30%), with lower abundances of Bacteroidetes (~6%) and Acidobacteria (~3%). In addition to the known earthworm symbiont (Verminephrobacter sp.) we identified a potential host-associated Gammaproteobacteria species (Serratia sp.) which was absent from soil yet observed in most earthworms. Although a distinct bacterial community defines these earthworms, clear family- and species-level modification were observed along an arsenic and iron contamination gradient. Several taxa observed in uncontaminated control microbiomes are suppressed by metal/metalloid field exposure, including eradication of the hereto ubiquitously associated Verminephrobacter symbiont, which raises implications to its functional role in the earthworm microbiome.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
Rees (from October 2014)
ISSN: 1462-2912
Additional Keywords: microbiome, earthworm, symbiotic, host-associated, 16S rRNA pyrosequencing
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 26 Nov 2014 13:07 +0 (UTC)

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