Regular maintenance of your laboratory and it’s equipment is important. Maintenance includes calibrating equipment regularly (daily if possible otherwise a couple times a week), keeping track of batches of media, culture oils and laboratory consumables being used and being aware of potential sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While some of this tracking can seem mundane and unnecessary when things are going well, you will be glad you did when or if you need to troubleshoot when things aren’t going so great.
All CO2 incubators should be regularly calibrated for both CO2 and temperature. Benchtop incubators should also be regularly serviced to ensure gas lines and valves are working optimally, and heating is calibrated to the optimal temperature. Temperature monitoring and calibration should also regularly be performed on all microscope heated stages, heating blocks and portable incubators.
The temperatures of refrigerators should also be observed regularly. Sometimes the temperature at the back of fridges can be as low as 0°C and cause freezing. Freezing media to store is very detrimental to the stability of particular components that make up the media and should therefore be avoided.
OIL & MEDIA
The batch of oil and the glassware/plasticware in which oil and media are stored or aliquoted into should be recorded. For our media, we do not recommend aliquoting into smaller amounts for storage, as every new container can have a residual contaminant. Instead just remove the volume you need within 24 hours of use for equilibration.
Further to this, all new batches of oil, media and laboratory consumables should be tested via a mouse embryo assay as a means to rule out any toxicity which may be present in the new batch. A toxic batch of consumables, media or oil can have detrimental effects on your embryos therefore ruling this out at the beginning before any research/commercial work is performed is a must.
Be aware of expiry dates. Once a bottle has been opened, our media expires after 2 weeks. The opening and/or expiry dates should be clearly and accurately labelled as each bottle is opened.
Introduction of VOCs can occur through many ways. Changing cleaning reagents or gas cylinders are common sources of VOCs. We recommend using trusted cleaning reagents such as 7X detergent; always following dilution instructions. Gas cylinders should be medical grade and also carbon filtered.
By being aware and taking the measures mentioned above you will be able to carefully analyse any critical-to-less critical changes that have been made to the laboratory during a period. Of course, for any further trouble-shooting queries contact email@example.com.