Strange contaminant in cell culture

Kevin Mulcahy k.mulcahy at
Mon Sep 15 07:32:11 EST 1997

> Tom Vink (tvink at wrote:
> } 9321531k at (Obaid Y. Khan) wrote:
> } >Hi
> } >We have been having some problems with our tissue
> } >culture
> } >which might be a contamination.
> } >What we are experiencing is round specks or particles
> ....
> Brownian motion can make debris look as if it's ... alive!

When I was generating mouse hybridomas for monoclonal antibody 
production a few years ago I experienced the same phenomena as Tom Vink: 
"Round specks or particles which appear to float around in the medium 
and also sit on the cell surfaces; size seems to be like an average 
bacterial cocci; they don't however take over the culture". We were 
unable to culture them separately (i.e. without cells) and were at a 
loss as to what they were. In the end we sent them to a company to check 
them out to see if they were protozoan, bacterial, fungal etc but they 
were also completely unable to detect any micro-organism and could not 
get anything to grow from the samples we sent them. So we came to the 
assumption that these particles were indeed cellular debris (blebs) and 
that their movement was caused solely by brownian motion.


Kevin Mulcahy.

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