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What equipment do I need?

If you are looking to start the comet assay in your laboratory, then you will be reassured to know that the assay does not require any special equipment.

Fluorescence microscope & camera

In order to visualise your cells, you will need a microscope (upright or inverted style) with fluorescence. The microscope will need to have a trinocular tube or camera port for attachment of a camera. Note: Comet Assay IV is supplied with a camera. You will also need a 10x or 20x (or possible 40x depending on cell size) objective and filter blocks appropriate to the type of stain you will be using. Suitable microscopes are available from all the main manufacturers including Zeiss, Leica, Nikon and Olympus.

For more information, please read our comet assay microscopy guide.

C-mount adapter

In order to connect a camera to your microscope, you will also need a C-mount adapter. A C-mount adapter is a standardized adapter for connecting Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) cameras such as those used with Comet Assay IV to your microscope. You can usually purchase a C-mount adapter from your microscope supplier, but if you are unsure about the requirements, please contact us as we have extensive experience in microscope/camera connectivity, and can supply C-mounts suitable for your system directly.

For information on C-mounts please see our comet assay microscopy guide.

Comet Assay IV scoring software

In order to quickly and accurately score cells using live video imaging, you will need the Comet Assay IV scoring software and camera. Comet Assay IV is supplied with a camera specialised for live video imaging and monochrome sensitivity & filtration, allowing you to achieve a high throughput of slides.

Comet assay slide kits

The easiest way to get started with the comet assay is to purchase a comet assay kit (such as those available from a company like Trevigen). These include most of the consumables required for the assay, such as solutions, stains and slides. Such kits come with slides pre-prepared, so do not require pre-coating with agarose. They also include a full protocol to guide you through the process.

If you intend to perform the assay without using commercial comet assay kits, then you should look at our troubleshooting guide, which will give you valuable advice in choosing suitable stains, preparing glass slides and more.

Horizontal electrophoresis tank

A horizontal electrophoresis tank is used to migrate unwound DNA following cell lysis. Fundamental to assessing damage using the comet assay, a quality tank is an essential piece of equipment.