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, 44 (1), 14-23

Inhibition of Bacterial Ice Nucleation by Polyglycerol Polymers


Inhibition of Bacterial Ice Nucleation by Polyglycerol Polymers

Brian Wowk et al. Cryobiology.


The simple linear polymer polyglycerol (PGL) was found to apparently bind and inhibit the ice nucleating activity of proteins from the ice nucleating bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. PGL of molecular mass 750 Da was added to a solution consisting of 1 ppm freeze-dried P. syringae 31A in water. Differential ice nucleator spectra were determined by measuring the distribution of freezing temperatures in a population of 98 drops of 1 microL volume. The mean freezing temperature was lowered from -6.8 degrees C (control) to -8.0,-9.4,-12.5, and -13.4 degrees C for 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, and 1% w/w PGL concentrations, respectively (SE < 0.2 degrees C). PGL was found to be an ineffective inhibitor of seven defined organic ice nucleating agents, whereas the general ice nucleation inhibitor polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) was found to be effective against five of the seven. The activity of PGL therefore seems to be specific against bacterial ice nucleating protein. PGL alone was an ineffective inhibitor of ice nucleation in small volumes of environmental or laboratory water samples, suggesting that the numerical majority of ice nucleating contaminants in nature may be of nonbacterial origin. However, PGL was more effective than PVA at suppressing initial ice nucleation events in large volumes, suggesting a ubiquitous sparse background of bacterial ice nucleating proteins with high nucleation efficiency. The combination of PGL and PVA was particularly effective for reducing ice formation in solutions used for cryopreservation by vitrification.

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