The comet assay for the detection of genotoxic damage in the earthworms: a promising tool for assessing the biological hazards of polluted sites.Folia Biol (Praha). 1996; 42(1-2):17-21.FB
The comet assay, a relatively new method for DNA strand break detection in individual cells, is becoming a major tool for environmental biomonitoring. One approach for assessing the possible environmental consequences of hazardous waste pollution involves the assessment of genotoxic damage (and other effects) in sentinel organism. The single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) technique or comet assay. because of its simplicity, sensitivity, and need for only small numbers of cells, has been suggested as an ideal technique for such studies. An important advantage of the technique is that it is applicable to any eukaryotic organism and cell type. Verschaeve et al. (1993) conducted a pilot study using alkaline comet assay to assess the extent of DNA damage in coelomic leucocytes (coelomocytes) of earthworms (Eisenia foetida) maintained in different soil samples as an indicator of soil pollution. The aim of our study was to evaluate the usefulness of monitoring single strand breaks in coelomocytes for assessing genotoxicity of pollutants in coke oven area. We exposed earthworms to samples of soils obtained from polluted areas of a coke oven. All samples gave a significantly higher comet tail moment that those obtained from worms kept in laboratory conditions (standard black earth = internal controls) and worms kept in soils from control areas (= external controls). Our results show that the comet assay applied to earthworm is very valuable for monitoring and detection of genotoxic compounds in terrestrial ecosystems.