Subcellular fractionation techniques were used to describe temporal changes (at intervals from T0 to T70 days) in the Pb, Zn and P partitioning profiles of Lumbricus rubellus populations from one calcareous (MDH) and one acidic (MCS) geographically isolated Pb/Zn-mine sites and one reference site (CPF). MDH and MCS individuals were laboratory maintained on their native field soils; CPF worms were exposed to both MDH and MCS soils. Site-specific differences in metal partitioning were found: notably, the putatively metal-adapted populations, MDH and MCS, preferentially partitioned higher proportions of their accumulated tissue metal burdens into insoluble CaPO4-rich organelles compared with naive counterparts, CPF. Thus, it is plausible that efficient metal immobilization is a phenotypic trait characterising metal tolerant ecotypes. Mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase II (COII) genotyping revealed that the populations indigenous to mine and reference soils belong to distinct genetic lineages, differentiated by 13%, with 7 haplotypes within the reference site lineage but fewer (3 and 4, respectively) in the lineage common to the two mine sites. Collectively, these observations raise the possibility that site-related genotype differences could influence the toxico-availability of metals and, thus, represent a potential confounding variable in field-based eco-toxicological assessments
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