This discussion forum focuses on the nature of micro-organisms and other organisms that are ice nucleators (can catalyze freezing of supercooled water) and their role in cloud processes and precipitation.

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Refs: Biological particles in the atmosphere - traits and abundance

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Proxies for material of biological origin in the atmosphere:
- levoglucosan (Puxbaum, Tenze-Kunit 2003; Puxbaum et al. 2007)
- cellulose (Sanchez-Ochoa et al. 2007)
- proteins (Jaenicke 2005)
- DNA (Després et al. 2007)
- manitol (Elbert et al. 2007)
- heat and lysozyme sensitivity of ice nucleation activity (Christner et al. 2008)

Review article on characterization of biological particles in the atmosphere (Georgakopoulos et al. 2008)

Christner, B. C., Morris, C. E., Foreman, C. M., Cai, R., Sands, D. C. 2008. Ubiquity of biological ice nucleators in snowfall. Science 319: 1214 (

Després, V. R., Nowoisky, J. F., Klose, M., Conrad, R., Andreae, M. O., Pöschl, U. 2007. Characterization of primary biogenic aerosol particles in urban, rural, and high-alpine air by DNA sequence and restriction fragment analysis of ribosomal RNA genes. Biogeosciences 4: 1127–1141 (

Elbert, W., Taylor, P. E., Andreae, M. O., Pöschl, U. 2007. Contribution of fungi to primary biogenic aerosols in the atmosphere: wet and dry discharged spores, carbohydrates, and inorganic ions. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 7: 4569–4588 (

Georgakopoulos, D. G., Després, V., Fröhlich-Nowoisky, J., Psenner, R., Ariya, P. A., Posfai, M., Ahern, H. E., Moffett, B. F., Hill, T. C. J. 2008. Microbiology and atmospheric processes: biological, physical and chemical characterization of aerosol particles. Biogeosci. Discuss. 5: 1469–1510 (

Jaenicke, R. 2005. Abundance of cellular material and proteins in the atmosphere. Science 308: 73 (

Puxbaum, H., Caseiro, A., Sanchez-Ochoa, A., Kasper-Giebl, A., Claeys, M., Gelencser, A., Legrand, M., Preunkert, C., Pio, C. 2007. Levoglucosan levels at background sites in Europe for assessing the impact of biomass combustion on the European aerosol background, J. Geophys. Res. 112: D23S05, doi:10.1029/2006JD008114 (

Puxbaum, H., Tenze-Kunit, M. 2003. Size distribution and seasonal variation of atmospheric cellulose. Atmos. Environ. 37: 3693–3699 (

Sanchez-Ochoa, A., Kasper-Giebl, A., Puxbaum, H., Gelencser, A., Legrand, M., Pio, C. 2007. Concentration of atmospheric cellulose: A proxy for plant debris across a west-east transect over Europe. J. Geophys. Res. 112: D23S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008180, (

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Below are a few references from a long time ago. I am sure most of you are aware of most of them, but it could be beneficial for the younger scientists among us.


1. Yankofsky, S., Z. Levin, A. Moshe, Association of ice nucleation bacteria with citrus and avocado plants in Israel And their possible role as causative agents of frost damage, Current Microbiology 5, 213-217, 1981.
2. Yankofsky, S., Z. Levin, T. Bertold and N. Sandlerman, Some Basic characteristics of bacterial freezing nuclei, J. Applied. Meteor., 20, 1013-1019, 1981.
3. Yankofsky, S., T. Nadler (Bertold) and Z. Levin, Induction of latent freezing nucleus capability in an ice nucleation active bacteria, Current Microbiol. 9, 263-268, 1983.
4. Levin, Z. and S. Yankofsky, Contact versus immersion freezing of freely suspended droplets by bacterial ice nuclei, J. Climate and Applied Meteor. 22, 1964-1966, 1984.
5. Levin, Z., S.A. Yankofsky, D. Pardess and N. Magal, Possible Application of bacterial condensation freezing to artificial rainfall enhancement, J. Climate and Appl. Meteor. 26, 1197, 1987.
6. Levin, Z. and S.A. Yankofsky, Ice nuclei of biological origin. In Lecture Notes in Physics, Atmospheric Aerosols And Nucleation. P.E. Wagner and G. Vali, Editors, Springer- Verlag Press 620-633, 1988.
7. Muller. O., P. J. DeMott, G. Vali, and Z. Levin, Microbiology and atmospheric processes: the role of biological particles in cloud physics, Biogeosciences, 4, 1059-1071, 2007.

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Recent new references:

Physical and chemical characterization of bioaerosols - Implications for nucleation processes (Ariya et al, 2009)

Ice nucleation activity of bacteria isolated from snow compared with organic and inorganic substrates (Mortazavi et al, 2008)

Ariya, P. A., Sun, J., Eltouny, N. A., Hudson, E. D., Hayes, C. T. and Kos, G. (2009) Physical and chemical
characterization of bioaerosols - Implications for nucleation processes, International Reviews in Physical Chemistry 28:1,1 — 32, (

Mortazavi R., Christopher A., Hayes T., Parisa A. 2008 Ice nucleation activity of bacteria isolated from snow compared with organic and inorganic substrates. Environ. Chem. 2008, 5, 373–381. doi:10.1071/EN08055 (

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