Using Plant Preservative Mixture (PPM) as a Fail-safe to Save Money
1 Jun 2020

Using Plant Preservative Mixture (PPM) as a Fail-safe to Save Money

Jessica Rosslee

Table of Contents

It is no secret that the cost of cell culture is high. But starting up a cell culture is an investment that can pay off if your cultures are successful. There is a risk, however, and that risk is contamination. If your labs are facing contamination, then the cost of damage control can be exorbitant.

Contamination can be obvious, revealing opaque media and speckled cells. Or, what's far more dangerous, is mycoplasma contamination. If you aren't using PPM as a preventative measure, Mycoplasma could be infecting your cells right now. Mycoplasma contamination can sometimes go undetected for months, causing irreversible damage to your plants and causing you to waste months of resources and time. Mycoplasma is so dangerous because it can be wreaking havoc with your cultures, and there are no obvious telltale signs that your cultures (and your bank balance) are under attack.

You may have already heard of the saying, prevention is better than cure, and it is very relevant to the TC industry. But another lesser-known phrase is more apt; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And when we are working with aseptic techniques in cell culture, nothing could be more accurate. This is where PPM comes in. When a lab faces contamination, they either have to start from ground zero, or, hope to be fortunate enough to isolate the contamination and treat it. PPM is often used as an alternative to antibiotics, as it is a far more sustainable option and one that can treat fungal infections as well (unlike antibiotics). 

Another issue with contamination, aside from financial loss, is the amount of time that could be lost. If mycoplasma contamination resides in the cultures untreated, you will probably pour months of hard work into your cultures only to discover the infection after it is too late.

Is There a Solution to This Problem?

By merely adding PPM™ to your media before it is autoclaved (or after, both options work), you can dramatically reduce the risk of contamination in your cultures.

How does PPM™ Work?

Plant Cell Technology's flagship product, PPM™, is the leading solution to tissue culture contamination on the market today. It is a plant preservative mixture used by both commercial laboratories and independent tissue culture operations around the world. It is probably the most effective tool to have in your start-up kit as well as your treatment kit. Because it is a biocide and a fungicide, it can be your fail-safe against airborne, waterborne, and endogenous microbial contamination.

Even if you maintain stringent techniques and aseptic environments, your tissue cultures could still be at risk of contamination, which could end your hopes for a thriving culture experiment. Here's how PPM™ can help:

  • Its heat-stable nature allows it to be added before autoclaving, reducing contamination risk even further than other treatments
  • It does not interfere with callus proliferation or regeneration, nor does it impair in vitro seed germination yet it is a potent preservative and biocide
  • It inhibits bacteria and fungi spore germination
  • PPM™ is rapidly becoming a sustainable standard ingredient in tissue culture media, and yet it is still more affordable than antibiotics

You may have heard that antibiotics are a suitable answer for tissue culture contamination. However, antibiotics have many drawbacks that scientists are now understanding more fully. According to ThermoFisher Scientific: “Antibiotics should only be used as a last resort and only for short term applications, and they should be removed from the culture as soon as possible.”

There are a few other advantages that PPM™ has over antibiotics, the primary ones being:

  • Antibiotics are not broad-based, unlike its competitor, PPM™.
  • Antibiotics are not effective against fungi and spore growth. In contrast, PPM™ can prevent and treat these types of damaging contaminants.
  • Many plants develop immunity against antibiotics, rendering the meds a useless expense. PPM™, on the other hand, will not allow that to happen. Because PPM™ is broad-based, plants will not be able to develop mutations against the mixture.
  • PPM™ is kinder to your bank balance than antibiotics. This means that micro businesses can make use of the more sustainable PPM™ option.
  • All in all, PPM™ is a more sustainable, long term solution.
  • Unlike antibiotics, PPM™ is heat-stable and can be autoclaved with media.
  • Antibiotics will also cause genetic variation, unlike PPM™ which will not affect genetic profile.

Quality control in labs begins with proper preparation, and having a fail-safe like PPM™ can help you to avoid any contamination issues in your micropropagation labs. Plant reservative mixture's active ingredient list may be challenging to pronounce, but it is a simple mixture to use to combat parasites, viruses, and other pathogens that are inhibiting growth, affecting quality, and wasting your time. Keep things simple by foregoing complicated antibiotics and, instead, adding PPM™ at 0.2 % in your micropropagation culture.

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