Copper toxicity on Eisenia fetida in a vineyard soil: a combined study with standard tests, genotoxicity assessment and gut metagenomic analysis

Enrica Marini, Arianna De Bernardi, Francesca Tagliabue, Cristiano Casucci, Luca Tiano, Fabio Marcheggiani, Filippo Vaccari, Eren Taskin, Edoardo Puglisi, Gianluca Brunetti, Costantino Vischetti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


Copper (Cu) toxicity is a pressing concern for several soils, especially in organic viticulture. The objective of this work was to assess Cu toxicity on the non-target organism Eisenia fetida, employing both traditional and novel tools for early identi- fication of Cu-induced damages. In addition to traditional tests like avoidance and reproductive toxicity experiments, other tests such as the single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) and gut microbiome analysis were evaluated to identify early and more sensitive pollution biomarkers. Four sub-lethal Cu concentrations were studied, and the results showed strong dose- dependent responses by the earthworm avoidance test and the exceeding of habitat threshold limit at the higher Cu doses. An inverse proportionality was observed between reproductive output and soil Cu concentration. Bioaccumulation was not detected in earthworms; soil concentrations of potentially bioavailable Cu were not affected by E. fetida presence or by time. On the contrary, the SCGE test revealed dose-dependent genotoxicity for the ‘tail length’ parameter already at the second day of Cu exposition. Gut microbiome analysis a modulation of microbial composition, with the most aboundant families being Pectobateriaceae, Comamonadaceae and Microscillaceae. Bacillaceae increased over time and showed adaptability to copper up to 165 mg/kg, while at the highest dose even the sensitive Acetobacteriaceae family was affected. The research provided new insights into the ecotoxicity of Cu sub-lethal doses highlighting both alterations at earthworms’ cellular level and changes in their gut microbiota.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)13141-13154
Numero di pagine14
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2024


  • Ecotoxicology · Earthworms · Coelomocytes · Single cell gel electrophoresis · Comet assay · Next-generation sequencing · Copper · Vineyard soil


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