Author(s): Lee RF, Steinert S
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Abstract The comet assay is a rapid, sensitive and inexpensive method for measuring DNA strand breaks. The comet assay has advantages over other DNA damage methods, such as sister chromatid exchange, alkali elution and micronucleus assay, because of its high sensitivity and that DNA strand breaks are determined in individual cells. This review describes a number of studies that used the comet assay to determine DNA strand breaks in aquatic animals exposed to genotoxicants both in vitro and in vivo, including assessment of DNA damage in aquatic animals collected from contaminated sites. One difficulty of using the comet assay in environmental work is that of comparing results from studies that used different methods, such as empirical scoring or comet tail lengths. There seems to be a consensus in more recent studies to use both the intensity of the tail and the length of the tail, i.e. DNA tail moment, percentage of DNA in the tail. The comet assay has been used to assess DNA repair and apoptosis in aquatic animals and modifications of the comet assay have allowed the detection of specific DNA lesions. There have been some recent studies to link DNA strand breaks in aquatic animals to effects on the immune system, reproduction, growth, and population dynamics. Further work is required before the comet assay can be used as a standard bio-indicator in aquatic environments, including standardization of methods (such as ASTM method E2186-02a) and measurements.
This article was published in Mutat Res
and referenced in Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal