National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), Canal Ring Road, P.O. Dilkusha, Lucknow 226 002, India
River Gomti, a tributary of river Ganga in northern India, is being polluted due to indiscriminate disposal of domestic sewage and industrial wastes that contain genotoxic chemicals. The study was conducted to evaluate the genotoxic potential of polluted water of river Gomti in two fish species, namely Channa punctatus and Mystus vittatus. The fishes were exposed in situ in nylon cages to the polluted water of river Gomti fixed near a distillery outlet located in Lucknow. The induction of DNA damage and micronuclei were determined in blood erythrocytes using comet assay and micronucleus test, respectively. The induction in micronuclei frequencies and DNA damage were found to be significantly elevated (p < 0.01) in exposed specimens after 3 days post-exposure as compared to the control, i.e. from laboratory-acclimatized fish specimens. The comparison of DNA damage between the two species indicated that C. punctatus is more sensitive to aquatic pollutants. Thus, this fish could be used as a bio-indicator of genotoxicity for bio-monitoring of water bodies. The results further revealed that the river Gomti is being contaminated with potential genotoxic and mutagenic chemicals produced from industrial and domestic activities; therefore, immediate measures are needed to reduce the inflow of pollutants in the river.