Distinct effects of the nephridial symbionts Verminephrobacter and Candidatus Nephrothrix on reproduction and maturation of its earthworm host Eisenia andrei

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Flavia Viana
  • ,
  • Laura-Carlota Paz
  • ,
  • Karen Methling, Ernst Moritz Arndt Univ Greifswald, Ernst Moritz Arndt Universitat Greifswald, Inst Biochem
  • ,
  • Christian F. Damgaard
  • Michael Lalk, Ernst Moritz Arndt Univ Greifswald, Ernst Moritz Arndt Universitat Greifswald, Inst Biochem
  • ,
  • Andreas Schramm
  • Marie B. Lund

Verminephrobacter, the most common specific symbionts in the nephridia (excretory organs) of lumbricid earthworms, have been shown to improve reproduction of the garden earthworm Aporrectodea tuberculata under nutrient limitation. It is unknown how general this beneficial trait is in the Verminephrobacter-earthworm symbiosis, whether other nephridial symbionts also affect host fitness and what the mechanism of the fitness increase is. Here we report beneficial effects of Verminephrobacter and Candidatus Nephrothrix on life history traits of the compost worm Eisenia andrei, which in addition to these two symbionts also hosts Agromyces-like bacteria in its mixed nephridial community: while growth was identical between control, Verminephrobacter-free and aposymbiotic worms, control worms produced significantly more cocoons and offspring than both Verminephrobacter-free and aposymbiotic worms, confirming the reproductive benefit of Verminephrobacter in a second host with different ecology and feeding behavior. Furthermore, worms with Verminephrobacter and Ca. Nephrothrix, or with only Ca. Nephrothrix present, reached sexual maturity significantly earlier than aposymbiotic worms; this is the first evidence for a beneficial role of Ca. Nephrothrix in earthworms. Riboflavin content in cocoons and whole earthworms was unaffected by the presence or absence of nephridial symbionts, suggesting that nutritional supplementation with this vitamin does not play a major role in this symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number178
JournalF E M S Microbiology Ecology
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • host-microbe interaction, multi-partner symbiosis, fitness experiment, Eisenia andrei, nephridia, FOETIDA, OLIGOCHAETA, BACTERIA, PROTEOBACTERIA, TRANSMISSION, LUMBRICIDAE, RIBOFLAVIN, BEHAVIOR, PEPTIDE

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 125833211