Cell Culture debris or contamination? - (Oct/25/2011 )
I have a flask of media sitting in my incubator to monitor for possible infections. There was a few tiny pieces of stringy looking debris. Over about 2 weeks, the debris seem to have largened and grown about 15-20 times in size. I have included a picture of a small piece, and a grown piece. Is this contamination? Seems to be string debris, but why is it becoming larger over a few weeks? Doesnt a contaminant grow fast? Thanks!
I would throw it away. To me it looked like a contaminated debris.
Contaminants grow - if it doesn't grow it isn't alive (generally). These are fungi, you will need to throw out your cultures and start again. It may also pay to have a good clean out of the incubator and hoods.
Although it doesn't really look like a contaminant to me, I would still chuck it. It's just not worth the risk.
The cell culture motto....
"if in doubt, throw it out"
What I see is precipitated protein from the Foetal calf serum. Fungi and its hyphae look completely different to those images shown above. I am doing some cell culture training at the moment for new staff and it is one of the most difficult things to teach..... i.e. recognising different types of contamination.........especially when none of my students have any contamination to look at.
BUT I have a never ending supply of idiots who do!!!!!!!! who require re-training in basic aseptic techniques