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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2010 Jan;85(3):481-9. doi: 10.1007/s00253-009-2291-2.

Bioprospecting for microbial products that affect ice crystal formation and growth.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


At low temperatures, some organisms produce proteins that affect ice nucleation, ice crystal structure, and/or the process of recrystallization. Based on their ice-interacting properties, these proteins provide an advantage to species that commonly experience the phase change from water to ice or rarely experience temperatures above the melting point. Substances that bind, inhibit or enhance, and control the size, shape, and growth of ice crystals could offer new possibilities for a number of agricultural, biomedical, and industrial applications. Since their discovery more than 40 years ago, ice nucleating and structuring proteins have been used in cryopreservation, frozen food preparation, transgenic crops, and even weather modification. Ice-interacting proteins have demonstrated commercial value in industrial applications; however, the full biotechnological potential of these products has yet to be fully realized. The Earth's cold biosphere contains an almost endless diversity of microorganisms to bioprospect for microbial compounds with novel ice-interacting properties. Microorganisms are the most appropriate biochemical factories to cost effectively produce ice nucleating and structuring proteins on large commercial scales.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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