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An alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay for environmental biomonitoring with native rodents

Juliana da Silva Thales R.O. de Freitas Jorge R. Marinho Günter Speit Bernardo Erdtmann About the authors

The main advantages of single-cell gel electrophoresis (SCG) are its applicability to any eukaryotic organism and cell type, its low cost and the short time required to obtain results. These properties make the SCG assay particularly useful in screening for environmental genotoxicity. The present study describes a modified version of this technique for use in field work with native rodents and examines some factors which influence the outcome of the assay. Wild rodents (Ctenomys torquatus, "tuco-tuco") from a region close to a strip coal mine and from a region with no coal mines were used. Animals from the coal mining region had significantly more DNA damage than those from the control area. The use of this SCG technique for direct sampling in the field should facilitate environmental genotoxicity studies with natural populations, without the need to remove the animals from their habitat or to sacrifice them.

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