Ask The Expert - Methods for Reducing Biological Contamination Risks in Your Lab

Published: September 9, 2013
Session Closed
Session Expert: Timothy Fawcett Ph.D., BioTechnical Institute of Maryland


Probably the most common and annoying problem encountered in a cell culture laboratory is biological contamination.   Contamination can be a minor nuisance or a major catastrophe depending on the type of contamination present and the culture method and volume utilized.  Today reputable media and sera providers do a very good job of filtering their products using specialized filtration systems and therefore most if not all contamination is due to problems with technique, incomplete sterilization of equipment or some other failure.  Prevention from biological contamination cannot be absolute, biological contamination does sometimes happen especially given that it is recommended that culturists do not use antibiotics.

It is possible to reduce the severity and frequency of biological contamination by following procedures such aseptic technique. What are your questions and comments about biological contamination and how can we help you overcome contamination problems in your lab.

Questions and Answers

Why is it so frowned upon to use antibiotics in cell culture now?

There are times when using antibiotics is justified, for example if you are isolating a primary culture and you can not risk a contaminated sample of tissue. Having mentioned that… Read More


How can you ensure that your frozen cells, or cells you obtain through a collaboration aren’t contaminated?

The simple answer is you can not. Normally when you get cells from a repository or a company you might be more assured but you can never be 100 %… Read More


Recently we are facing a problem of culture getting white flocks in our culture. Even after adding more anti-micotic and anti-biotics to culture eradication is not possible. Fumigation has been done twice in two weeks but eradication seems impossible. Any help in this regard??

Really the best advice is to discard the culture. If you continue to grow the contaminated culture you risk a worse contamination. Read More


After thoroughly cleaning and sterilizing our lab after a bacterial contamination, we are worried about recontamination. Any thoughts about things we can do to ensure sterility after cleaning and any suggestions on how to test to be sure that the contamination is gone.

I am assuming you had a big contamination if you had to go through such extremes but I don’t know the particulars or where you think the contamination came from.… Read More


Is it possible the elimination of contaminated culture from bacterial, yeast, fungal etc.?

Yes, but usually it is difficult and hard on the animal cells. It also depends on the type of contamination. Of course the best solution is to have non-contaminated cells… Read More


How can we eradicate the fugal contamination on our lab?

It is difficult to provide an answer unless I have more information. Are you writing about a contamination in a cell culture dish, or the whole lab, or an incubator?… Read More