Cell culture loss due to contamination is a universal problem in cell culture labs. Biological contamination is one of the most common types of contamination that occurs in mammalian cell culture labs. Some are easily detectable like yeast, moulds and bacteria. Some are more challenging to detect and can result in serious culture problems like viruses, protozoa, insects and mycoplasma.
Mycoplasma is a type of prokaryotic bacteria (without a cell wall). Mycoplasma contamination can be caused by poor culturing practices, irregular mycoplasma testing, or non-sterile laboratory equipment. Mycoplasma contamination does not change the pH or turbidity of the culture medium, but it affects changes in cell morphology, growth rate, metabolism, and functions. This jeopardizes the validity of your research work and affects the quality of your research. Your time, money and effort will also be wasted.
How to prevent mycoplasma contamination?
‘Management of mycoplasma contamination must be the central focus for any cell culture lab contamination or quality control program’, Lincoln, CK et al. We can use various aseptic techniques to prevent mycoplasma growth and contamination in our work areas and culture systems.
Sterilize Your Work Area with Mycoplasma Prevention Spray
Maintaining a clean lab space is the most basic way to prevent contamination from occurring. Atlantis Bioscience’s ethanol-based decontamination spray for cleaning your laboratory surfaces has been validated to inhibit mycoplasma growth. This product kills not only mycoplasma, but also a wide variety of fungi, bacteria, and viruses quickly and effectively. It is compatible with all common workspaces even in an incubator, storage box, or liquid nitrogen tank.
Water bath treatment with Bioguard A
Contaminants of all kinds can grow in an incubator & water bath due to the humidity. Aside from cleaning the water trays regularly, using preventative solutions added to the water can give your lab added protection. In areas with water, Bioguard A is a non-toxic, non-volatile, and non-corrosive tray disinfectant. It is effective against mycoplasma and other contaminants.
How to detect whether mycoplasma contaminated your culture?
A routine mycoplasma test is essential for a translational cell culture lab. Many laboratories across the world neglect the importance of regular mycoplasma testing, resulting in minimal or no changes in mycoplasma infection rates even with advanced detection methods available.
If your lab is part of the statistics that do not do routine mycoplasma labs, it is recommended for you to run a rapid detection test the moment you suspect that your cell culture might be contaminated.
Detect mycoplasma contamination with the BioMycoX Mycoplasma PCR Detection Kit
A rapid detection kit that is designed for PCR screening with easy-to-use reagents and highly sensitive down to 10-100 fg/reaction. It has a specific primer, which prevents cross-species detection of bacterial or eukaryotic DNA. The results will be apparent within 2-3 hours, enabling you to manage the situation on time.
If mycoplasma has already been contaminated, what should I do next?
If your prevention methods still result in mycoplasma contamination, you’ll need to resort to using antibiotics to treat your cultures. Since mycoplasma does not have a cell wall, antibiotics like penicillin that we normally use in the laboratory are not compatible. So, what can effectively kill mycoplasma?
An antibiotic for mycoplasma elimination that does not target the cell wall, but targets the anabolic pathway of mycoplasma instead. The solution also can eliminate other bacteria, both gram-positive and negative without affecting the metabolism and enzymatic functions of the cells. It has been proven that it is biodegradable, so it is safe for humans and the environment.
Mycoplasma contamination is a precarious problem in cell culture laboratories. We can’t completely eliminate cell culture contamination but we can reduce the damage caused by mycoplasma with better control. It is recommended for you to test routinely to prevent the spread of them. However, once it is contaminated in your culture, do not fret. Our range of prevention and decontamination solutions will be available to give you the necessary support for your translational research.