Supply of cell lines

All tick cell lines are supplied to academic research institutes ("not-for-profit" organisations) subject to an individually prepared Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) between the originating institute that deposited the cell line and the recipient institute, administered for the Biobank by the University of Liverpool. Arrangements for supply of cell lines to commercial applicants will be made separately by direct contact with the originating institute (in the first instance contact for University of Minnesota cell lines and for the Texas A&M University cell line BmVIII-SCC).

Cell lines will always be shipped to recipient laboratories as growing cultures, since we cannot guarantee successful resuscitation of frozen stabilates. Tick cells in culture can tolerate the range of temperatures experienced during transit by air for up to a week.


We provide training in tick cell line care and maintenance. This is an essential component of successful transfer of tick cells to, and their establishment in, laboratories with little or no previous experience of tick cell culture. Recipient scientists (preferably the person who will actually look after the cells) can visit the Biobank to be trained in the specific approach and methods for tick cell cultivation. This provides an opportunity to see how the cells should look and behave under normal conditions, before they are transferred to the recipient laboratory where their appearance and growth characteristics may vary as a result of changes in medium components, environmental conditions, operator expertise etc. Exceptionally, if it is not possible for someone from the recipient laboratory to visit the Biobank, Dr Bell-Sakyi will provide training either through a visit (cost paid by the recipient laboratory) or by email/skype/telephone. Follow-up support and troubleshooting services will also be provided to all cell line recipients by email/skype/telephone.

Training can also be provided on request in tick organ culture techniques (salivary gland cultures, moulting nymphal and backless adult tick explants) which are of particular application to tick-borne protozoa such as Theileria and Babesia. Trainees must provide their own ticks.

Establishment of new cell lines from ticks and other arthropods

In response to requests and on receipt of suitable starting material (engorged female or moulting nymphal ticks, gravid female mites and insects, insect eggs), we will attempt to establish new cell lines from tick species or strains which are not already represented in the collection and from other arthropods.

Tick-borne bacteria

The Biobank houses a small collection of intracellular tick-borne bacteria including Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia and Spiroplasma species that require tick cells for propagation. Further information is available on request.


The price of each cell line for not-for-profit recipients is £750 plus shipping costs; this represents 20% of the actual cost to the Biobank of maintaining the cell lines. Discounted costs may be available depending on factors such as geographic location and existence of ongoing or proposed research collaborations. Commercial recipients should contact Dr Bell-Sakyi to discuss pricing.

The price for each cell line includes 4-6 individual growing cultures of the line, supply of further cultures (on up to three occasions) of the same cell line as required during the period covered by the MTA, details of the source, passage history and growth conditions of the cell line, and training at the Biobank in the maintenance of tick cell lines if required (travel and subsistence expenses to be paid by the recipient). Follow-up support for all purchased cell lines will be delivered electronically (see Services).