Exposure and Health

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 21–31 | Cite as

Evaluating groundwater for its probable mutagenicity and genotoxicity using in vitro bioanalytical tools

  • Tajinder Kaur
  • Renu Bhardwaj
  • Saroj AroraEmail author
Original Paper


The present study entails the investigation of mutagenic and genotoxic effect of groundwater samples collected from twenty four different locations of Malwa region (India) using in vitro bioassays, viz. Ames fluctuation test (with/without exogenous metabolic activation) using Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100 strains, Vibrio harveyi bioluminescence assay using V. harveyi A16 strain (a dim luxE mutant), plasmid nicking assay, and comet assay. It was observed that the water samples of all the sites of study area demonstrated mutagenic activity on both strains of S. typhimurium. The different sampling periods caused variation in genotoxic intensity with summer samples showing higher mutagenicity values and, therefore, more genotoxic as compared to winter samples. However, V. harveyi bioluminescence assay was found to be comparatively less sensitive for genotoxicity screening of water samples. In plasmid nicking assay, 42% samples collected during summer were found to induce genotoxicity by increasing the level of DNA damage. To further establish the level of primary DNA damage, the alkaline version of comet assay was performed with human lymphocytes. No significant increase in DNA damage was seen as compared to negative control. Our results highlighted the significance of using more than one bioassay to evaluate the genotoxicity of water samples in different seasons. These results also demonstrate the need for further biological studies in this area for the detection of potentially genotoxic contaminants providing useful data in risk assessment.


Genotoxicity Groundwater Malwa region Comet assay Ames fluctuation test Vibrio harveyi bioluminescence assay 



The authors are thankful to UPE (under the university with potential for excellence) and University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi for providing financial assistance to carry out this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animals rights

Human and animal subjects were not involved in this study. In order to carry out comet assay, blood was obtained from healthy donors by venipuncture by a pathologist at the Guru Nanak Dev University dispensary for which approval was obtained from the ethical committee.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botanical and Environmental SciencesGuru Nanak Dev UniversityPunjabIndia

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