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Journal of Applied Genetics 46(2), 2005, pp. 241-246

Optimisation of the microbiological mutagenicity assay based on genetically modified Vibrio harveyi strains

Beata Podgorska, Ewa Chec, Katarzyna Ulanowska, Grzegorz Wegrzyn

Abstract: Recently, we have developed a novel assay designed for detection of mutagenic pollution of the marine environment. This assay is based on the use of a series of genetically modified strains (named BB7, BB7M, BB7X and BB7XM) of a marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi. Sensitivity of the V. harveyi mutagenicity assay was found to be similar to, or even somewhat higher than, that of the commonly used Ames test. Subsequent studies indicated that this assay may be useful in assessment of mutagenic contamination of the marine environment. Nevertheless, we assumed that improvement of this assay is still possible, and thus we aimed to optimise its procedures. Here we present our research on the optimisation of the V. harveyi mutagenicity assay, which indicated that different tester strains used in this assay give the best results depending upon the experimental conditions employed. Incubation of bacteria in a buffer, rather than in a nutrient broth, containing a mutagen, increased the efficiency of the assay with BB7 and BB7M strains, but had a deleterious effect in the case of BB7X and BB7XM. The latter couple of strains revealed higher mutagenicity in the plate assay, as compared to the liquid medium assay. However, the opposite effect was observed for BB7 and BB7M. Low-dose (1 J m-2) UV irradiation, as well as 30 min incubation in 0.1 M CaCl2, had no significant effect on the efficiency of the assay when using BB7 and BB7M, whereas the number of mutagen-induced mutants of BB7X and BB7XM strains increased about two times under these conditions. Our previous experiments indicated that various tester strains revealed different sensitivity to particular mutagens. Thus, a series of strains should be used in the assay. Results presented in this report show that different conditions should be used for two pairs of the tester strains: BB7 and BB7M, and BB7X and BB7XM.

Key words: marine environment, mutagenic pollution, mutagenicity assay, Vibrio harveyi.

Correspondence: G. Wegrzyn, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdansk, Kladki 24, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland; e-mail:

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