Mycoplasma species are often found in research laboratories as contaminants in cell culture. Mycoplasmal cell culture contamination occurs from individuals or contaminated ingredients in the cell culture medium. The name was chosen because Mycoplasmas were observed to have a fungi-like structure (“Myco”) and because it also had a flowing plasma-like design without a cell wall (“plasma.”)
Mycoplasma cells are physically small and difficult to detect with a conventional microscope. Detection techniques include Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), plating on sensitive agar, and staining with a DNA stain including DAPI or Hoechst. Mycoplasmas may induce cellular changes, including chromosome aberrations (changes in metabolism and cell growth). Mycoplasmas can grow in tissue fluids and grow in live tissue cells without killing the cells, unlike viruses. Severe Mycoplasma infections may destroy a cell line.
Atlas Biologicals proprietary filtration scheme uses three separate 0.1-micron membranes to effectively remove mycoplasma from our sera. Every lot is tested for mycoplasma using the method from “FDA Points to Consider for the Mycoplasma testing of Cell Cultures and Biologicals” derived from cell substrates. This procedure is recommended for master cell banks, working cell stocks, and cell substrates used to manufacture these products and consists of the Direct Culture method combined with the Indicator Cell Culture procedure.