Studies have been showing how changes in ultraviolet (UV) affect the terrestrial system, mostly focusing on higher plants and indirect effects, e.g. UV changed food quality/decomposition. Much less attention has been given to direct effect on terrestrial species, although the negative effects have been recognized for some earthworms.
Further, the actual mechanisms of UV toxicity to soil invertebrates are even less understood. We here studied the effect of UV on the soil oligochaete Enchytraeus crypticus, and attempted to identify the possible mechanisms of toxicity using high-throughput gene expression.
Applying a UV dose equivalent to UV during the winter months in northern Europe we observed an 80% decrease in reproduction. For these organisms, approximately 5% of the genes were differentially expressed. Among the observations was an activation of the DNA repair mechanisms, nucleotide excision repair, which correlated with survival of the organisms.
An observed repressing of apoptosis seems to have deleterious effects (e.g. because it may lead to the accumulation of aberrant cells) leading to a decline in reproduction. The mechanisms activated by UV were similar to those mechanisms activated in humans, showing conservation across species.
Gomes, S.I., Roca, C.P., Scott-Fordsmand, J.J. and Amorim, M.J., 2018. Identifying conserved UV exposure genes and mechanisms. Scientific reports, 8(1), p.8605.
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