Genotoxicity of Select Herbicides in Rana Catesbeiana Tadpoles Using the Alkaline Single-Cell Gel DNA Electrophoresis (Comet) Assay

Environ Mol Mutagen. 1997;29(3):277-88. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-2280(1997)29:3<277::aid-em8>;2-9.


Pesticides are broadly used for pest control in agriculture despite possible negative impacts they may pose to the environment. Thus, we examined the DNA damage caused by five herbicides commonly used in southern Ontario (Canada). Erythrocytes from Rana catesbeiana (bullfrog) tadpoles were evaluated for DNA damage following exposure to selected herbicides, using the alkaline single-cell gel DNA electrophoresis (SCG) or "comet" assay [Singh et al. (1988): Exp Cell Res 175:184-191; Ralph et al. (1996): Eviron Mol Mutagen 28:112-120]. This approach involves detection, under alkaline conditions, of DNA fragments that upon electrophoresis migrate from the nuclear care, resulting in a comet formation. The herbicides tested, along with their active ingredients, were AAtrex Nine-O (atrazine), Dual-960E (metalochlor), Roundup (glyphosate), Sencor-500F (metribuzin), and Amsol (2,4-D amine). Tadpoles were exposed in the laboratory for a 24-hr period to several concentrations of the herbicides dissolved in dechlorinated water. Methyl methanesulphonate was used as a positive control. The herbicides AAtrex Nine-O-, Dual-960E-, Roundup-, and Sencor-500F-treated tadpoles showed significant DNA damage when compared with unexposed control animals, whereas, Amsol-treated tadpoles did not. Unlike the other responding herbicides, Sencor-500F did not show a relationship between dosage and DNA damage. In summary, the results indicate that at least some of the herbicides currently used in southern Ontario are capable of inducing DNA damage in tadpoles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage*
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel / methods
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Larva / growth & development*
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Rana catesbeiana / growth & development*


  • Herbicides
  • Mutagens