DNA damage in earthworms (Eisenia spp.) as an indicator of environmental stress in the industrial zone of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico Conference Paper uri icon


  • Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz is one of the major industrial areas of Mexico. Presently, the Coatzacoalcos River and the areas surrounding the industrial complex are considered by various authors to be some of most polluted sites in Mexico. The objective of this study was to determine if earthworms could be used as indicators of environmental stress in the Coatzacoalcos industrial zone. Often, detritivores and decomposers such as earthworms are the first to be affected when the soil is contaminated. We collected soil samples to be used for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) quantification by gas chromatography. Concentrations of hexachlorobenzene, lindane and total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the soil were above the maximum permissible limits of the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (CEQG). Comet assay was conducted in coelomocytes of wild earthworms collected in Coatzacoalcos and compared with the control earthworms. We found DNA damage in earthworms from Coatzacoalcos that was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in comparison to laboratory earthworms. Earthworms are an appropriate organism to use as an indicator of environmental impact in contaminated sites. DNA damage recorded in the earthworms provides clear evidence of environmental impacts by the chemical industry on the wildlife of this region.

publication date

  • 2010-01-01