The tissue culture facility can be one of the most important places in the lab. Many researchers spend hours in the hoods isolating primary cell lines and tissue, generating samples for western blot analysis, ELISA… the list goes on.
It is also one of the places in which scientists tend to butt heads. An improperly functioning tissue culture facility can have a huge impact on everyone’s work.
Here a few of my pet peeves that impede the smooth running of tissue culture.
1. Poor time management
This is one of the most critical things in tissue culture. Blocking out the hood for 2 hours when you only need half an hour, or turning up late, has a big effect on everyone else’s timelines.
2. Not tidying up
There’s nothing worse than coming into the tissue culture lab and having to tidy up other people’s mess, thus delaying the start of your own work.
3. Failure to replace or report communal reagents that are running low
How many times have you gone to fill up the ethanol spray bottle and the 70% stock bottle is empty? This eats into your schedule by having to make up some more on the spot.
4. Failure to report contamination
Failing to inform your colleagues of your yeast-riddled culture can contribute to the spread of the infection and make it more difficult to eradicate. Be open with your colleagues and contribute to proper surveillance for contamination particularly for mycoplasma which can lead to the temporary shutdown of a facility.
5. Not carrying out regular mycoplasma testing
This follows on from the point above and not carrying out regular testing is really inconsiderate to others.
6. Poor aseptic technique
This is something that has been extensively covered on Bitesize Bio http://bitesizebio.com/aseptictechnique. Poor aseptic technique doesn’t just affect the individual in question but everyone else sharing the hood and/or incubators.
7. Ignorance of tissue culture rules
A few basic rules in tissue culture contribute to its smooth running and assist in keeping contamination to a minimum. Often an incidence of contamination coincides with non-adherence to the cleaning rotation or someone forgetting about a flask of cells for a month.
What are your pet peeves when it comes to tissue culture?
I think that transferring Western blots is one the most enjoyable tasks to do in a lab: it’s quick, it’s messy, and on some gleeful level, it feels like a child’s art project gone wrong. Of course, it’s also finicky and slippery and prone to tiny pitfalls that can noticeably affect the quality of your […]
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