Exploration of microbial communities in the guts and casts of Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus, and Eisenia fetida

Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2022 Jan 11. doi: 10.1007/s12223-022-00948-7. Online ahead of print.


Earthworms and their casts have been widely used for organic waste degradation and plant growth promotion. The microbial communities that reside in the guts and casts of earthworms markedly influence both applications. In the present study, next-generation sequencing was applied to identify the microbial communities in the guts and casts of three epigeic earthworm species, Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus, and Eisenia fetida, reared under two different feeding conditions. A total of 580 genera belonging to 43 phyla were identified. By comparing bacterial diversity among samples divided into groups based on the earthworm species, sample types, and conditions, the beta diversity analysis supported the impact of the sample type and suggested that there was significant dissimilarity of the bacterial diversity between the gut and cast. Besides, bacterial Phylum compositions within the group were compared. The result showed that the top three high relative frequency phyla found in the casts were the same regardless of earthworm species, while those found in the gut depended on both the condition and earthworm species. Focusing on the cellulolytic and plant growth-promoting bacteria, certain cellulolytic bacteria, Paenibacillus, Comamonas, and Cytophaga, were found only in the cast. Citrobacter and Streptomyces aculeolatus were detected only in the guts of earthworms reared in the bedding containing vegetables and bedding alone, respectively. Besides, Actinomadura and Burkholderia were detected only in the gut of E. eugeniae and E. fetida, respectively. The results proved that the microbial composition was affected by sample type, condition, and earthworm species. In addition, the proportion of these beneficial bacteria was also influenced by these factors. Hence, the information from this study can be used as a guide for selecting earthworm species or their casts for more efficient organic waste decomposition and plant growth promotion.