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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Earthworms produce phytochelatins in response to arsenic
Author(s): Liebeke, Manuel
Garcia-Perez, Isabel
Anderson, Craig
Lawlor, Alan
Bennett, Mark H
Morris, Ceri A
Kille, Peter
Svendsen, Claus
Spurgeon, David J
Bundy, Jacob G
Issue Date: 22-Nov-2013
Citation: Liebeke M, Garcia-Perez I, Anderson C, Lawlor A, Bennett MH, Morris CA, Kille P, Svendsen C, Spurgeon DJ & Bundy JG (2013) Earthworms produce phytochelatins in response to arsenic, PLoS ONE, 8 (11), Art. No.: e81271.
Abstract: Phytochelatins are small cysteine-rich non-ribosomal peptides that chelate soft metal and metalloid ions, such as cadmium and arsenic. They are widely produced by plants and microbes; phytochelatin synthase genes are also present in animal species from several different phyla, but there is still little known about whether these genes are functional in animals, and if so, whether they are metal-responsive. We analysed phytochelatin production by direct chemical analysis in Lumbricus rubellus earthworms exposed to arsenic for a 28 day period, and found that arsenic clearly induced phytochelatin production in a dose-dependent manner. It was necessary to measure the phytochelatin metabolite concentrations directly, as there was no upregulation of phytochelatin synthase gene expression after 28 days: phytochelatin synthesis appears not to be transcriptionally regulated in animals. A further untargetted metabolomic analysis also found changes in metabolites associated with the transsulfuration pathway, which channels sulfur flux from methionine for phytochelatin synthesis. There was no evidence of biological transformation of arsenic (e.g. into methylated species) as a result of laboratory arsenic exposure. Finally, we compared wild populations of earthworms sampled from the field, and found that both arsenic-contaminated and cadmium-contaminated mine site worms had elevated phytochelatin concentrations.
DOI Link: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081271
Rights: © 2013 Liebeke et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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