Tolerant species of polychaete worms can survive in polluted environments using various resistance mechanisms. One aspect of resistance not often studied in polychaetes is their association with symbiotic bacteria, some of which have resistance to metals and may help the organism to survive. We used "next generation" 454 sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA sequences associated with polychaetes from a copper and zinc-polluted harbor and from a reference site to determine bacterial community structure. We found changes in the bacteria at the polluted site, including increases in the abundance of bacteria from the order Alteromonadales. These changes in the bacteria associated with polychaetes may be relatively easy to detect and could be a useful indicator of metal pollution.
Neave, M., Streten-Joyce, C., Glasby, C., Mcguinness, K., Parry, D., & Gibb, K. (2012). The Bacterial Community Associated with the Marine Polychaete Ophelina sp.1 (Annelida: Opheliidae) Is Altered by Copper and Zinc Contamination in Sediments. Microbial Ecology, 63(3), 639-650. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-011-9966-9