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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340794

Research Project: Environmental and Plant Factors That Influence Trace Element Bioavailability in Food Crops

Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

Title: Anomalous bioaccumulation of lead in the earthworm Eisenoides lonnbergi (Michaelsen)

Author
item Beyer, Nelson - Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
item Codling, Eton
item Rutzke, Michael - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/30/2017
Publication Date: 11/7/2017
Citation: Beyer, N.W., Codling, E.E., Rutzke, M.A. 2017. Anomalous bioaccumulation of lead in the earthworm Eisenoides lonnbergi (Michaelsen). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 37(3):914-919.

Interpretive Summary: Lead concentrations in soil organisms are usually well below those found in the soil in which they live, and organism lead levels tend to decline as one moves from lower to higher levels in a food chain. Earthworms of the species Eisenoides lonnbergi provide an exception to this observation, accumulating very high concentrations of lead from low lead acid soils. Earthworms belonging to this species were collected from strongly to extremely acid soils at 16 sites on a wildlife refuge in Maryland, USA. A lead concentration as high as 766 mg /kg, dry weight, was observed in Eisenoides lonnbergi collected from soil containing only 17 mg/kg of lead. The ratio of lead concentration in earthworms to lead concentration in soil was highly variable at the sites. The high concentrations of lead found in Eisenoides lonnbergiare more closely correlated with calcium uptake from acid soils than with bioaccessibility of soil lead.

Technical Abstract: Lead concentrations in soil organisms are usually well below those in the associated soil and they tend to decrease with each higher trophic level in a food chain. Earthworms of the species Eisenoides lonnbergi provide an exception to this observation, accumulating very high concentrations of lead from acid soils. Earthworms belonging to this species were collected from strongly to extremely acid soils at 16 sites on a wildlife refuge in Maryland, USA. A lead concentration as high as 766 mg /kg, dry weight, was detected in E. lonnbergi collected from soil containing only 17 mg/kg of lead. Concentration factors (ratio of lead concentration in earthworms to lead concentration in soil, dry weights) were highly variable at the sites, from 1.0 to 83. As suggested previously by M. Ireland and J. Morgan, lead absorption by earthworms is enhanced in calcium-deficient soils. The anomalously high concentrations of lead found in E. lonnbergi are more closely correlated with the uptake of calcium from acid soils than with bioaccessibility of soil lead.