Identifying Different Types of Contaminant in Life Science Laboratories

Pion Favicon
Deb Shechter
Jul 6, 2015
min read
Identifying Different Types of Contaminant in Life Science Laboratories

Life science laboratory personnel know that the prevention of contamination when working with cell cultures is a critical priority. However, with limited resources and pressing deadlines, achieving this objective can be challenging.

To help address this problem, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Conduct a Visual Inspection

Regularly conduct visual inspections of Petri dishes and culture flasks to detect possible contamination. The appearance of a yellowish tinge (caused by acid pH) may indicate the existence of bacterial contamination. The appearance of floating clumps may indicate mold, and the growth medium becoming cloudy and opaque may indicate yeast.

  • Conduct DNA Stain + Microscopic Evaluation

Use a DNA stain followed by microscopic evaluation to identify the existence of mycoplasma contamination, which affect the host cell’s metabolism, chromosomes and morphology.

  • Pay Close Attention when Growing Mammalian Cell Lines

Contamination risks are heightened when aggressively growing mammalian cells lines mix with the desired culture. As such, pay particular attention when carrying out this process.

  • Use a 10x Microscope

It typically takes bacteria a few days after contamination to appear visible under a 10x microscope.

  • Beware of Damaging the Cell Line

Viruses replicate via host cell cultures. As such, any drugs that may be used to eliminate them can be extremely toxic to the cell line.

  • Beware of Cross-Contamination

Cross-contaminated human and animal cell lines are a growing problem and must be avoided, or else lab studies findings may be invalidated. Karyotyping and sozyme profiling can help identify interspecies cross-contamination. DNA analysis can help identify intraspecies cross-contamination.

  • Protect laboratory personnel at all times!

While maintaining research integrity is obviously important, the chief concern must always be the safety of all laboratory personnel – especially when viruses or other contaminants may be present. It is vital to have: a compliant and certified biological safety cabinet (BSC), properly-labeled health warnings, a sterilized work area, excellent record keeping, a clean laboratory, and all personnel must be trained in correct aseptic techniques. 

Laboratory High Pressure Homogenizers

At Pion, all of our laboratory high pressure homogenizers are designed for the stringent sanitary requirements of the pharmaceutical, biotech and foods industries. They are easy to clean and maintain -- which are critical factors to help prevent contamination in laboratory environments, ensure the validity of studies and findings, and most importantly: keep laboratory personnel safe and out of harm’s way.

Prev Blog
Next Blog