In species such as Pseudomonas syringae, special proteins embedded in their outer membranes help ice crystals to form. The bacteria use these proteins to trigger frost formation at warmer than normal temperatures on plants and then later invade the plant through the damaged tissue. When the bacteria die, many of the proteins are wafted up into the atmosphere, where they can alter the weather by seeding clouds and precipitation.
Scientists from Germany have now observed for the first time the step-by-step, microscopic-level action of P. syringae's ice-nucleating proteins locking water molecules in place to form ice. Their findings will be presented at the AVS 60th International Symposium and Exhibition, held Oct. 27 – Nov. 1 in Long Beach, California.
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Presentation BA+AI+AS+BI+IS+NL-MoM10, "A Molecular View of Water Interacting with Climate-active Ice Nucleating Proteins," 2013.