The bacteria that turns water into ice




I purchased 24 500ml water bottles not long ago and put them in the freezer to get them cold some of them alone, some one next to the other. When I opened the freezer some time later, some water bottles were frozen sold, some where still liquid. As I was moving the liquid containing bottles trying to understand why would that happen, the water in the bottle changed into a slurry ice from one end to the other right in front of my eyes in a very similar fashion. Though it was not as solid as this one seems to be. Then I read a bit around and it turns out this is what supercooling is.


Came here to say the same thing.

There was a sound like that of the gentle closing of a portal as big as the sky, the great door of heaven being closed softly. It was a grand AH-WHOOM. I opened my eyes - and all the sea was ice-nine.

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try it with distilled water sometime! Even cooler!

Nearly anything will cause crystal nucleation at -6C, including a scratch on the inside of the vessel, though it is cool that these bacteria can also do so.

I would think this is most relevant if these bacteria are found in the upper atmosphere, where collecting water on your outer membrane in such a way as to promote crystal growth would lead to precipitation.

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If you read the full post, they are, indeed found up there.

I did read the full post. It stated very clearly that these bacteria were found in the atmosphere. When I added the word upper, it was to differentiate that portion of the atmosphere from the rest of it. Much as I used the word precipitation, rather than just snow, intentionally.

In much the same way that ground level ozone and ozone in the upper atmosphere have differing effects, so too would the presence of this bacteria in the lower atmosphere and the upper be different. It’s a lot colder in the upper atmosphere, even over places where it does not snow but might rain. Only occasionally is it -6C down at ground level.

but rather than its usefulness for humans, I am admiring the ability of this and many other bacteria to travel this way, and return to the ground that way.

It’s amazing, but it’s actually not very rare or hard to reproduce. Plus it’s fun to slurp the snow-water.

An early example of agricultural genetic engineering involved P. syringae with the nucleation gene removed/mutated. These ice-minus bacteria could be sprayed on leaves of frost-susceptible plants, where they out-competed the ice-nucleating kind, protecting the plants from frost. It actually worked, but ran afoul of environmental regulations of the time.

Put another way, it would appear that – in addition to atmospheric travel capabilities – the ice nucleation trait increases bacterial fitness around frost season, because it gives them access to the delicious juices of ice crystal-damaged leaf cells.

I wonder if there’s some way to use this in a CSI plot line where the victim ingests the bacteria and dies from freezing from the inside out.

P.syringae is indeed found in the upper atmosphere (DeLeon-Rodriguez et al., 2013) but for the most part they make for shitty ice nuclei (IN) with maximum reported activated fractions of 0.5% of the test population (Möhler et al., 2008).

This isn’t to say they aren’t important though. They may provide the initial ice crystals needed for ice multiplication to occur, leading to rapid glaciation of an otherwise supercooled cloud spanning the so-called Hallet-Mossop zone (-3 to -8°C) which can significantly alter cloud lifetime and cloud top albedo (Crawford el al., 2012). This has lead to the idea of bio-precipitation feedbacks but this is very much in the initial exploratory phase of research.

We got hit a severe ice storms a couple of weeks ago. They were soon followed by chain emails about NATO INVOLVED IN BIOLOGICAL WARFARE ATTACKING US WITH CHEMTRAIL MAKING EVERYTHING FREEZE TO HIDE GLOBAL WARMING. Amongst the ‘proof’ was an a link to an article about these bacteria. For some reason people couldn’t comprehend the temperature inversion that was easily visible in all the temperature records as well as the extent of damaged areas.

Feeling a little stupid here, but if 27 degrees (F) is considered a little warm for ice to actually form, what’s with the “water freezes at 32” we all learned in grade school? I feel like I’m missing something important…

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