Contamination: How to Avoid It, Recognize It, and Get Rid of It

Part of the Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology Techniques book series (ICMB)


One occurrence that every person who tries to grow mammalian cells in vitro has to deal with sooner or later is contamination. As a problem, it can vary from irritating to catastrophic. The best solution? Avoid getting contamination in the first place. Failing this, the next best thing is to destroy all the contaminated cultures. However, since neither solution is likely to work all of the time, in this chapter we shall discuss how to recognize contaminated cultures and what to do about them when you do get contamination. One approach to contamination you cannot do is ignore it. Contamination in a cell culture will influence virtually any parameter you might wish to study, even if it does not immediately kill the cells. Do not ever use contaminated cultures to get numbers (we will not call it data) on the grounds that “they are just a little contaminated” or “the cells are still alive.” Any numbers you get will be misleading rather than helpful, and a waste of time.


Culture Room Mycoplasma Infection Laboratory Coat Hood Surface Entry Room 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1998

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