The comet assay in animal models: from bugs to whales – (Part 1 Invertebrates)

Goran Gajski, Bojana Žegura, Carina Ladeira, Bertrand Pourrut, Cristian Del Bo, Matjaž Novak, Monika Sramkova, Mirta Milić, Kristine Bjerve Gutzkow, Solange Costa, Maria Dusinska, Gunnar Brunborg, Andrew Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The comet assay, also called single cell gel electrophoresis, is a sensitive, rapid and low-cost technique for quantifying and analysing DNA damage and repair at the level of individual cells. The assay itself can be applied on virtually any cell type derived from different organs and tissues of eukaryotic organisms. Although it is mainly used on human cells, the assay has applications also in the evaluation of DNA damage in yeast, plant and animal cells. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to give an extensive overview on the usage of the comet assay in animal models from invertebrates to vertebrates, covering both terrestrial and water biota. The comet assay is used in a variety of invertebrate species since they are regarded as interesting subjects in ecotoxicological research due to their significance in ecosystems. Hence, the first part of the review (Part 1) will discuss the application of the comet assay in invertebrates covering protozoans, platyhelminthes, planarians, cnidarians, molluscs, annelids, arthropods and echinoderms. Besides a large number of animal species, the assay is also performed on a variety of cells, which includes haemolymph, gills, digestive gland, sperm and embryo cells. The mentioned cells have been used for the evaluation of a broad spectrum of genotoxic agents both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the use of invertebrate models and their role from an ecotoxicological point of view will also be discussed as well as the comparison of the use of the comet assay in invertebrate and human models. Since the comet assay is still developing, its increasing potential in assessing DNA damage in animal models is crucial especially in the field of ecotoxicology and biomonitoring at the level of different species, not only humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-113
Number of pages32
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Biomonitoring
  • Comet assay
  • DNA damage
  • In vitro
  • In vivo
  • Invertebrates


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