Insights into the earthworm gut multi-kingdom microbial communities

Rumakanta Sapkota, Susana Santos, Pedro Daniel Geadas Farias, Paul Henning Krogh, Anne Winding

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Earthworms are widely known to impact soil health, having a key
role in nutrient cycling and are often referred to as soil engineers.
They are vital for soil microbial assemblages particularly through their
feeding and burrowing activity in soil. Earthworms feed on soil organic
matter and litter, and the resulting casts alter the soil microbial
community. However, the gut microbiome of earthworms remains less known.
In this study, we used amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene for
bacteria and 18S rRNA gene for eukaryotes to assess the gut community
assemblages of earthworm species within three genera Aporrectodea,
Allolobophora and Lumbricus that represent different life forms sharing
the same habitat. The objective was to compare the gut microbiome
profiles of eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms to assess significance
of earthworm life forms, and to explore the cross kingdom networks in an
attempt to identify keystone species. We found a high eukaryotic
diversity with a dominance of the SAR supergroup along with fungi and
metazoan in the earthworm gut. The bacterial community were dominated by
members of Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and
Verrucomicrobia. The eukaryotic and prokaryotic communities showed
similar differences in alpha diversity, being lowest in Lumbricus
herculeus. The beta diversity showed earthworm species as a key factor in
shaping gut microbiomes with L. herculeus harboring distinct microbiomes
compared to species of Aporrectodea caliginosa, A. longa, A. tuberculata
and Allolobophora chlorotica. Cross kingdom networks showed high
interactions between several protist and bacterial OTUs. In conclusion,
this study suggested that the community assemblages of gut microbiomes
was shaped by earthworm species and life form, and such assemblage
consist of cross kingdom interactions among eukaryotes and prokaryotes.
TidsskriftScience of the Total Environment
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2020


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