Earthworms’ essential gut reactions described in ScienceDaily 4 August 2015 and ABC News in Science 5 August 2015 and Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms8869. Earthworms feed on fallen leaves and other plant detritus that contain large amounts of polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that act as antioxidants and give plants colour, but can inhibit digestive enzymes in plant eating animals. A team of scientists led by Jake Bundy and Manuel Liebeke of Imperial College London have found that earthworms have a group of unique chemical compounds in their digestive systems that counteract the effect of polyphenols. The researchers named the compounds drilodefensins, because earthworms belong to an order of ‘drilo’ invertebrates named Megadriles.
It seems drilodefensins are unique to earthworms. They were found in 14 species of earthworms, but not in similar creatures such as leeches and sewerage worms. The researchers also found that the more polyphenols there were in the earthworms’ diet, the more drilodefensins they produced in their digestive systems. These compounds are essential for earthworms to carry out their “ecosystem engineering” function in the recycling of nutrients into soils.
Jake Bundy explained: “Without drilodefensins, fallen leaves would remain on the surface of the ground for a very long time, building up to a thick layer. Our countryside would be unrecognisable, and the whole system of carbon cycling would be disrupted”.
Editorial Comment: When we were building gardens on the previously barren sandstone soil at our Jurassic Ark Botanical Gardens site, we knew we were getting somewhere when we found worms in the soil. Every gardener knows that worms are a gardener’s best friend for building up good soil.
The fact that earthworms have essential chemical compounds for this function, and they are unique to earthworms, is good evidence that earthworms were designed for this particular function. There are also numerous small insects and other invertebrates, named detritvores, that contribute to this essential function, which is a good reminder of how plants and animals work together as part of an integrated system.
Such essential interactions between plants and animals teach us that a functioning ecosystem needs all its components to even get started. It cannot evolve gradually over millions of years. Creation in six days by the God who gave each creature its essential functional components ready to contribute to a fully functioning ecosystem, makes much more sense. Even with the destruction of Noah’s flood, these micro systems would have been preserved in the biological soup of the flood waters and floating micro-biomats. (Ref. annelids, invertebrates, eclogy, recycling)
Evidence News vol. 15, No. 14
12 August 2015
Creation Research Australia