Ice nucleation activity of bacteria isolated from snow compared with organic and inorganic substrates

LDEO Publication: 
Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2008
Authors  Mortazavi, R.; Hayes, C. T.; Ariya, P. A.
Journal Title  Environmental Chemistry
Volume  5
Issue  6
Pages  373–381
Journal Date  12/2008
Publisher  CSIRO Publishing
ISSN Number  1448-2517
Key Words  bio-aerosols; cloud chemistry

Ice nucleation experiments on bacteria isolated from snow as well as grown in the laboratory, in comparison with those of known organic and inorganic aerosols, examined the importance of bio-aerosols on cloud processes. Snow samples were collected from urban and suburban sites in the greater Montreal region in Canada (45 degrees 28'N, 73 degrees 45'W). Among many snow bacterial isolates, eight types of bacterial species, none belonging to known effective ice nucleators such as Pseudomonas or Erwinia genera, were identified to show an intermediate range of ice nucleation activity (-12.9 +/- 1.3 degrees C to -17.5 +/- 2.8 degrees C). Comparable results were also obtained for molten snow samples and inorganic suspensions (kaolin and montmorillonite) of buffered water solutions. The presence of organic molecules (oxalic, malonic and succinic acids) had minimal effect (< 2 degrees C) on ice nucleation. Considering experimental limitations, and drawing from observation in snow samples of a variety of bacterial populations with variable ice-nucleation ability, a shift in airborne-species population may significantly alter glaciation processes in clouds.

DOI  10.1071/EN08055