Heavy metal accumulation and biochemical evaluation of earthworms from sawmills in Abeokuta, South-Western Nigeria
Over the years, sawmilling industries have shown a high growth in the rain forest areas of Nigeria, releasing several wastes into the environment. This study aims at using earthworms (Eudrilus eugeniae, Libyodrilus violaceous and Hyperiodrilus africanus) of sawmill origin as bio-indicators of metal pollution in sawmills. Four major sawmills located in Abeokuta (7o9’11’’44” N - 3o19’35’’ E), namely Lafenwa, Sapon, Isale-Ake and Kotopo sawmills were used for this study. The arboretum of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta was used as control site. Earthworms, plant and soil samples were collected each month for three months (March to May, 2013), randomly from different points at each of the locations. Protein analysis was conducted on the earthworms using gel electrophoresis while the activities of Superoxide dismutase (SOD), Catalase (CAT) and Glutathione peroxidase (GPx) were done spectrophotometrically. Heavy metal analysis was also conducted on soil, plant and earthworm samples using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Gel electrophoresis results revealed the presence of nine protein bands in E. eugeniae from Sapon and Kotopo sawmills, as compared to six protein bands of E. eugeniae from the control site. Seven protein bands were observed in L. violaceous from Lafenwa and H. africanus from Isale-Ake sawmills. Levels of SOD, GPx and CAT activities were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in E. eugeniae from Sapon sawmill than those of Kotopo sawmill and the control site. This study also revealed that Pb and Cd concentrations were higher in the earthworms, plants and soil from the sawmills than those of the control site. Sapon sawmill recorded significantly higher (P < 0.05) levels of Cd and Cu in plants as well as Pb and Cd in soil samples than those of the other locations. The concentrations of Cu, Co and Ni were higher in the soil of the control site than in the sawmill soils. Stronger relationship exists in the metal concentrations between the earthworms and soils (R= 0.602) than between the plants and soil (R= 0.405). Sawmilling therefore posses potential risks on sawmill soil and soil fauna, especially earthworm species.