• Acclimation;
  • Cadmium;
  • Earthworms


Acclimation to cadmium (Cd) levels exceeding background concentrations may influence the ability of earthworms to accumulate Cd with minimum adverse effects. In the present study, earthworms (Eisenia andrei) were acclimated by exposure to 20 mg/kg Cd (dry wt) in Webster soil for 28 d. A 224-d bioaccumulation test was subsequently conducted with both acclimated and unacclimated worms exposed in Webster soils spiked with 20 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg Cd (dry wt). Uptake kinetics and subcellular compartmentalization of Cd were examined. Results suggest that acclimated earthworms accumulated more Cd and required a longer time to reach steady state than unacclimated worms. Most of the Cd was present in the metallothionein (MT) fraction. Cadmium in the MT fraction increased approximately linearly with time and required a relatively longer time to reach steady state than Cd in cell debris and granule fractions, which quickly reached steady state. Cadmium in the cell debris fraction is considered potentially toxic, but low steady state concentrations observed in the present study would not suggest the potential for adverse effects. Future use of earthworms in ecological risk assessment should take into consideration pre-exposure histories of the test organisms. A prolonged test period may be required for a comprehensive understanding of Cd uptake kinetics and compartmentalization. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1568–1574. © 2010 SETAC