Understand Difference

Understanding the Differences: Mammalian vs Microbial Cell Culture

Introduction to Cell Culture

Cell culture is a widely used technique in cell biology that involves growing cells in an in vitro or artificial environment. It is a powerful tool that has numerous applications and has contributed significantly to our understanding of disease mechanisms, tissue regeneration, vaccination, drug development, and drug testing.

In this article, we will cover the basics of cell culture, from the definition and purpose of cell culture to the sources of cells for cell culture, and then dive deeper into mammalian cell culture, which is the most widely used type of cell culture.

Definition and Purpose of Cell Culture

In vitro, which means “in glass,” refers to the artificial environment created to grow cells for cell culture. Cell culture is a technique that allows the cultivation of cells outside of their natural environment, such as a plant, animal, or human body.

The purpose of cell culture is to provide an environment that allows cells to grow and reproduce under controlled conditions. Cell culture also enables scientists to study cellular behavior, test potential treatments for diseases, and develop new drugs.

Cell culture has many applications in the field of medicine. For example, it can be used to develop vaccines by growing the virus or bacteria in cell culture and then purifying the antigen.

Cell culture can also be used to test the toxicity and efficacy of new drugs. By growing cells in an artificial environment and exposing them to different substances, scientists can determine if a new drug will be safe and effective.

Additionally, cell culture can be used to study cellular mechanisms and diseases.

Sources of Cells for Cell Culture

Cells used for cell culture can be sourced from various organisms, including plants, animals, bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Plant cells and tissues are typically used for research focusing on plant physiology or for agricultural purposes.

Bacterial culture is commonly used for the production of therapeutic proteins and enzymes. Yeast and mold culture are also essential for food production and pharmaceuticals.

In animal cell culture, cells are obtained from animal tissues through a process called cell dissociation. The tissue is first treated with enzymes or mechanical forces to separate the cells.

The cells can then be cultured in an in vitro environment. However, it is essential to note that the use of animal cells for cell culture can have ethical considerations since it could involve animal experimentation.

Mammalian Cell Culture

Mammalian cell culture is the most commonly used type of cell culture and has numerous applications in medicine and research. The primary objective of mammalian cell culture is to create an artificial environment that mimics the natural environment of the cells.

This environment must meet the physiological conditions required for the cells to grow and proliferate. Definition and Procedure of

Mammalian Cell Culture

Mammalian cells are grown in vitro using flasks that provide the appropriate environment for them to thrive.

The two types of mammalian cell culture methods are suspension culture and adherent culture. Suspension culture involves cells that do not require a surface to grow on, while adherent culture involves cells that need a surface to attach to and grow.

Mammalian cell culture requires nutrients such as glucose, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals for cells to grow. These nutrients are provided by a growth medium that also contains growth factors and hormones.

Control of the temperature, pH, and osmolarity of the growth medium is essential in maintaining the viability of the cells. Cell culture samples must be kept free of contaminants, such as bacteria or fungi that can negatively impact the growth of cells.

A sterile environment is crucial in preventing contaminations. Biological safety cabinets, cleanrooms, and protective clothing are some of the measures taken to control contamination.

To preserve mammalian cells for future use, they are frozen in liquid nitrogen, which keeps the cells viable for an extended period.

Categories of Mammalian Cell Lines and Media Requirements

Mammalian cells can be classified into three categories based on their origin: fibroblastic cells, epithelial-like cells, and lymphoblast-like cells. Each cell line has specific media requirements tailored to meet the physiological needs of the cells.

Cell culture media can be classified into two categories: simple media and complex media. Simple media are nutrient solutions that only contain essential components, such as salts, amino acids, and glucose.

In contrast, complex media contain additional components, such as serum, which provides additional nutrients and growth factors for cells. Serum is added to complex media to improve the growth of cells and protect them from stress.


Cell culture is an important technique in cell biology that has enabled significant advancements in medicine and research. Mammalian cell culture is the most widely used type of cell culture and has numerous applications in the development of new therapies and drugs.

The use of cell culture has its ethical considerations, such as the use of animal cells for research. However, the benefits of cell culture have brought about numerous advancements in medicine and research.

Microbial Cell Culture

Microbial cell culture is a technique that involves the culturing of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, in an artificial environment. Microorganisms have been used for various applications in research and industries.

For instance, the production of recombinant proteins, antibiotics, and vaccines. Definition and Procedure of

Microbial Cell Culture

Solid agar media and liquid broths are the two basic types of microbial culture methods.

In solid agar media, microorganisms are grown on a nutrient-rich agar-based surface where they can form colonies and grow. In contrast, liquid broths contain liquid nutrient-rich solutions where microorganisms can grow freely.

Cloning is a common practice in microbial cell culture, whereby a microorganism’s DNA is replicated to produce multiple copies of the same genetic material. Recombinant proteins, such as insulin used to treat diabetes, are produced by cloning enzymes from bacteria’s DNA.

In microbial cell culture, the bacteria itself serves as a host for the production of these proteins. Microbial cell culture has various applications in the field of medicine, such as disease diagnosis, isolation, and identification.

Microbial cultures enable the detection of pathogens that cause illness in patients, allowing for targeted treatment and prevention. Successful culturing of microorganisms ensures their preservation, allowing medical professionals to study and analyze conditions at a later date.

Samples are stored at low temperatures, such as a refrigerator, freezer, or cryopreservation. Uses and Advantages of

Microbial Cell Culture

Microbial cell culture is a simple and less expensive technique compared to other traditional methods.

Once the growth medium has been prepared, it is only necessary to add the microorganisms for them to grow. Microorganisms are fast-growing, allowing for quick experiments and analysis.

Microbial cell culture is advantageous in its easy maintenance and storage. It is not necessary to provide a controlled environment, including temperature and humidity.

Cultures can be stored at low temperatures, prolonging storage time. Furthermore, microorganisms do not require complex media, such as mammalian cells.

Microbial cells grow on nutrient-rich solutions, such as simple broths. Genetic manipulation is another advantage of microbial cell culture.

Genetic manipulation involves changing the genetic makeup of an organism. In microbial cell culture, this is achieved through genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology.

This technology enables the creation of novel products and the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment of diseases. The ease of genetic manipulation in microorganisms is attributed to their small genome size, high growth rate, and well-characterized genetics.

Microbial cell cultures are widely used in the industry due to their ability to synthesize valuable products. For instance, bacteria are well known for their ability to produce antibiotics, including penicillin.

Microorganisms are also used in the production of fermented foods and drinks, such as bread, cheese, wine, and beer. Microbial cell culture is essential in the production of renewable energy, such as biofuels that are extracted from microorganisms.

Similarities between Mammalian and

Microbial Cell Culture

The in vitro methods used in mammalian and microbial cell culture have some notable similarities. One of the primary similarities is the use of an artificial environment.

In both cases, the environment created must meet the physiological conditions of the specific organism. The culture media used in both mammalian and microbial cell culture provide essential nutrients required by the cells to grow.

In addition, both types of cultures require strict measures to ensure purity and prevent contaminations. Purity is necessary to avoid inaccuracies and interference in experimental data, especially in the case of microbial cell culture in the industry.

Contamination prevention is essential to ensuring that the culture remains sterile; otherwise, it can undermine the validity of results. Both types of cultures require a controlled environment, including temperature, pH, and osmolarity, to ensure cells grow and proliferate correctly.


In conclusion, microbial cell culture and mammalian cell culture have numerous applications in the field of medicine and research. Microbial cell culture is advantageous for its simplicity, genetic manipulation, and less expensive methods.

In contrast, mammalian cell culture is more complex and more expensive but is necessary for specific types of research. While both cultures have significant differences, they share notable similarities, including strict measures to ensure purity and controlled environments.

Both have contributed significantly to scientific advancements that have improved our understanding of disease mechanisms, tissue regeneration, vaccination, and drug development. Differences between Mammalian and

Microbial Cell Culture

Despite sharing some similarities, mammalian and microbial cell culture also have some distinct differences.

One of the most significant differences is the type of cells used. Mammalian cell culture uses animal cells, while microbial cell culture uses microbial cells such as bacteria and fungi.

In this article, we will explore some of the key differences between mammalian and microbial cell culture.

Key Differences in the Two Cell Cultures

Animal cells and microbial cells have inherent differences that govern how they interact with their environment. These differences account for the dissimilarities in the matrix and the conditions required to support cell growth.

Mammalian cell culture requires a more complex matrix to support cell growth. Human and animal cells are anchorage-dependent cells and require a surface to which they can attach, such as a tissue culture flask.

Adherent cell cultures also require regular subculturing, which involves removing the cells from one flask and transferring them to another. In contrast, microbial cell cultures can grow in both liquid and solid media.

Bacteria and fungi exist as single cells and do not require a surface to which they can fixate. In solid media, they form colonies on the surface of the agar without the need for subculturing.

Cost is another major difference between mammalian and microbial cell culture. Mammalian cell culture is a time-consuming and expensive process compared to microbial cell culture.

Animal cells require a more complex nutrient medium, including serum, growth factors, and hormones. These nutrients are expensive compared to the simpler nutrient media used in microbial cell culture.

In addition, maintaining and propagating mammalian cells on a large scale requires more costly laboratory equipment and specialized expertise. Microbial cell culture, on the other hand, uses less expensive nutrient media and simple lab equipment, making it more cost-effective.

Microorganisms have a rapid growth rate, which reduces the time and cost needed to produce large amounts of cells. Another important difference between mammalian and microbial cell culture is the ease of work.

Mammalian cell culture requires a higher level of expertise and rigorous laboratory standards to prevent cell contamination. Animal cells are more sensitive to changes in their environment and require tightly controlled conditions, which demands greater precision from the experimenter.

Moreover, mammalian cell culture requires more complex controls for pH, temperature, humidity, and CO2 to maintain optimal conditions, which limits the application of this technique in many laboratories. In contrast, microbial cell culture is less demanding and easier to work with.

Microorganisms have less stringent temperature and pH requirements and are less sensitive to environmental factors such as light and humidity.


Mammalian and microbial cell culture are two distinct techniques used in research and industry. Despite some similarities, they have marked differences regarding the cells they use, the matrix, cost, and ease of work.

Mammalian cell culture requires a more complex nutrient medium, specialized equipment, and greater precision, making it more time-consuming and expensive. Microbial cell culture, in contrast, uses less expensive nutrient media, simple equipment, and is easier to work with, making it more cost-effective.

Understanding these differences is essential for scientists in choosing the most appropriate cell culture technique to suit their research needs. In conclusion, the differences between mammalian and microbial cell culture highlight the unique characteristics and requirements of each technique.

Mammalian cell culture involves animal cells that require a complex matrix, costly nutrient media, and strict environmental controls, making it more challenging and expensive. On the other hand, microbial cell culture utilizes microbial cells that can grow in simpler media, with lower cost, and are more adaptable to varying conditions.

Understanding these differences is crucial for scientists to choose the appropriate cell culture technique for their research needs. Whether working with animal cells or microbial cells, cell culture remains an invaluable tool in advancing our understanding of disease mechanisms, tissue regeneration, drug development, and various applications in research and industry.

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