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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 820, 2022, 152834

Assessment of bioremediation potential of metal contaminated soils (Cu, Cd, Pb and Zn) by earthworms from their tolerance, accumulation and impact on metal activation and soil quality: A case study in South China

Menghao Zhanga,1, Pascal Jouquetb

Key Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture for Arable Land Conservation in South China/Centre of Land consolidation and soil bioremediation, College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, 510642 Guangzhou, China.


This study was aimed to evaluate the potential of four earthworm species commonly found in South China for the bioremediation of soils contaminated by Cu, Cd, Pb and Zn. Survival rates and metal accumulation of Eisenia fetidaAmynthas morrisiA. robustus and A. corticis and changes in soil physico-chemical properties were investigated in a 60-day incubation experiment with a metal-polluted soil. At the end of the experiment, the survival rates of E. fetidaA. morrisi and A. robustus were significantly higher than that of A. corticis. Principal component analysis showed that earthworm activity improved soil quality with the averaging soil quality index being 0.66, 0.64, 0.56, 0.53, and 0.12 for the A. corticisA. morrisiA. robustusE. fetida, and control treatments, respectively. The highest total available Cd, Cu, and Pb in casts were found in the treatment with A. morrisi, and this species accumulated the smallest amount of metals. Results indicate that A. morrisi may be the best candidate for earthworm-assisted bioremediation of metal contaminated soils in South China.

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