Lab Equipment to Help Prevent Contamination in Plant Tissue Culture
30 Jun 2020

Lab Equipment to Help Prevent Contamination in Plant Tissue Culture

Jessica Rosslee

Table of Contents

As a lab technician, or even a hobbyist enjoying DIY tissue culture, there are few things as disheartening as contamination in your tissue culture lab.

If you have any experience with cloning plants and plant tissue culture, then you know that contamination in your tissue culture media can be catastrophic. If you want to avoid discarding months of hard work, keep reading to find out about how to prevent lab contamination, and all you should know about keeping your tissue culture equipment sterile.

Your tissue culture media is fragile; if the environment is compromised, then you could have a big plant contamination problem on your hands. You could have all the right boxes checked, a sterile environment, and PPM™ for sterilization, but if you aren’t using the proper techniques when washing your lab equipment or using the right plant tissue culture equipment, then your efforts to stave off contamination will be futile.

While we cannot promise the end of all contamination threats, we can offer you some tips and tricks to fight off lab contamination.

One of the primary contaminants to watch out for is biological contaminants. Biological contaminants can stem from the following two sources:

  • The tissue itself that you used to instigate the culture
  • The laboratory equipment

Contaminants that are transferred from the plant material are usually environmental organisms and plant pathogens. If you use PPM™ to sterilize the tissue culture media and follow the correct protocols, you can avoid contamination from the tissue culture itself.

Preference Center

Laboratory Equipment and Contamination

You could be performing aseptic cultures down to the very last detail, but if you have a failure or malfunction in your laboratory equipment, or if you slip up with the sterilization of the lab equipment, then you could be putting your cultures at serious risk of contamination.

The following are causes of laboratory contamination:

  • Plant-associated bacteria
  • Human-assosiated bacteria
  • Microarthropods
  • Environmental bacteria
  • Yeasts

Microbial contaminations will usually grow on the plant tissue media itself. These microbial contaminations will not always be easily identifiable as they could remain subliminal or latent for some time before being detected. If you want to gain control of lab contamination and eliminate any contamination, then early detection and identification of contaminants are essential.

Some contaminants will cause more severe and devastating damage than others. And some microorganisms will grow too rapidly to control, resulting in system failure and overrunning of the cultures. The key is in early detection that can only happen if you remain vigilant and watchful over your cultures. The microorganisms that are slower to grow can be easily managed with the use of a plant preservative mixture (PPM™).

Prevention is Better than Cure

Preventing contamination will save you time and money in the long run. Adding PPM™ to your cultures will not only prevent, but also eliminate existing bacteria and contaminants.

The first step in the preventative approach is keeping your lab and lab equipment clean. Use a disinfectant on your working surfaces, and make sure that the disinfectant can eliminate bacterial spores. Clean your work surfaces frequently. Maintain a strict sterilizing procedure to keep your incubators, laminar flow hoods, and water baths clean. Other areas that many people don't think of should receive attention as well; areas like the coiling coils on a refrigerator are often forgotten about, so make sure you clean everywhere - especially areas that can be a great hiding place for microbial spores.

Maintain Proper Aseptic Technique

Maintaining good aseptic techniques is critical in the fight against contamination. Lab personal should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Wear gloves, lab coats, and other PPE
  • Frequently wash hands, especially before performing any work with the cultures. Hands should be washed before entering and leaving the lab area.
  • Sterile transfers should be performed in a biosafety cabinet. If there is no biosafety cabinet, the transfers should only be completed within an appropriate, enclosed space. This area should be kept clean and should be disinfected on a monthly basis (at least). If the enclosed area is kept disinfected, the tissue culture samples and the person working with them should be kept free of contamination.
  • Get a Label Maker as part of your lab equipment inventory. Okay, a label maker is not a necessity, but it could come in handy. Labeling all your cultures, supplies, equipment, and solutions will streamline your workflow, and reduce the risk of accidental contaminants.
  • Autoclaving is the best way to make sure any and all contaminants and infections are removed, thereby eliminating the possibilities of one contaminated sample spreading to another.

If you do find a sample that has become contaminated, hopefully, the sample is not irreplaceable. If the sample is an essential part of your work, you may still be able to rescue it (depending on the nature of the contamination, of course) by using the appropriate substances such as PPM™. However, this will take a fair amount of effort and could even award you a couple of new grey hairs.

Invest in quality lab equipment, the appropriate growing medium and PPM™ today. Just make sure that you protect your investment and keep your lab and all your equipment sterile.

Do you have a success story to share with us? Let us how you used PPM™ to save your tissue culture; we love hearing your success stories!

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