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The application of the comet assay to assess the genotoxicity of environmental pollutants in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-361
Early online date20 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


King's Authors


This study aimed to establish a protocol for cell dissociation from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to assess the genotoxicity of the environmental pollutant benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) using the alkaline version of the single cell electrophoresis assay (comet assay). BaP genotoxicity was assessed in C. elegans (wild-type [WT]; N2, Bristol) after 48 h exposure (0 to 40 μM). Induction of comets by BaP was concentration-dependent up to 20 μM; comet % tail DNA was ∼30% at 20 μM BaP and ∼10% in controls. Similarly, BaP-induced DNA damage was evaluated in C. elegans mutant strains deficient in DNA repair. In xpa-1 and apn-1 mutants BaP-induced comet formation was diminished to WT background levels suggesting that the damage formed by BaP that is detected in the comet assay is not recognised in cells deficient in nucleotide and base excision repair, respectively. In summary, our study provides a protocol to evaluate DNA damage of environmental pollutants in whole nematodes using the comet assay.

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