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Crit Rev Biotechnol. 1991;11(3):277-95.

Principles and biotechnological applications of bacterial ice nucleation.

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Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Certain aerobic, Gram-negative bacteria, including the epiphytic plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, possess a membrane protein that enables them to nucleate crystallization in supercooled water. Currently, these ice-nucleating (IN) bacteria are being used in snow making and have potential applications in the production and texturing of frozen foods, and as a replacement of silver iodide in cloud seeding. A negative aspect of these IN bacteria is frost damage to plant surfaces. Thus, of the various types of biological ice nucleators, bacteria have been the subject of most research and also appear relevant to the anticipated practical uses. The intent of this review is to explain the identification and ecology of the ice-nucleating bacteria, as well as to discuss aspects of molecular biology related to ice nucleation and consider existing and potential applications of this unique phenomenon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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