Eco-taxonomic profile of an iconic vermicomposter — the ‘African Nightcrawler’ earthworm, Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg, 1867)

R.J. Blakemore

Abstract


Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg, 1867), an adaptable exemplar of an anatomically advanced earthworm having direct fertilisation, is reviewed ecologically. A tropical West African species originating in savannah soils, it thrives on organically rich substrates. It has a rapid life-cycle from cocoon to maturity in as little as 47 days. Presence of this worm raised experimental pasture yields up to 83.9 %. Copious pellet-like casts deposited onto the soil surface are sought by roots. Passage of organic material through its gut reduces microbial pathogens and the resulting vermicompost product has enhanced nutrients, and microbial and enzymatic properties. Preliminary pharmaceutical reports are of inhibition of ‘Golden staph’ Staphylococcus aureus and ‘Thrush’ Candida albicans, plus anti-tumour effects in cancer cell lines. Its handling characteristics make this worm highly suitable for vermiculture with ecological and economic provisioning of: (1) fishing bait or ‘seed’ cultures, (2) high-protein worm biomass for stock feeds, (3) organic fertiliser, (4) bio-stabilisation of contaminated matrices/fluids, (5) recycling of organic ‘wastes’, (6) carbon sequestration in soil organic matter (SOM, or humus), (7) bio-prospecting for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or ‘silk’, and (8) eco-toxicology/ethology research. New reports are of cultivation in Denmark, South Africa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Peru, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Eudrilus eugeniae is figured and its ecological profile, global distribution and taxonomy updated with mtDNA barcodes.

To cite this paper: Blakemore, R.J. 2015. Eco-taxonomic profile of an iconic vermicomposter — the ‘African Nightcrawler’ earthworm, Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg, 1867). African Invertebrates 56 (3): 527–548.

Published electronically: 25 November 2015.
urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:CBAD704B-64F6-421B-BC71-74DF4620DB4E

 

 

Eco-taxonomic profile of an iconic vermicomposter — the ‘African Nightcrawler’ earthworm, Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg, 1867).

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