Distribution of ice nucleation-active bacteria on plants in nature

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1978 Dec;36(6):831-8. doi: 10.1128/aem.36.6.831-838.1978.


A replica plating method for rapid quantitation of ice nucleation-active (INA) bacteria was developed. Leaf washings of plant samples from California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Wisconsin were tested for the presence of INA bacteria. Of the 95 plant species sampled, 74 were found to harbor INA bacteria. Only the conifers were, as a group, unlikely to harbor INA bacteria. All of the INA bacteria isolated resembled either Pseudomonas syringae or Erwinia herbicola. Sufficient numbers of INA bacteria were present on the samples to account for the ice nuclei associated with leaves that are necessary for freezing injury to occur. Numbers of INA bacteria were large enough to suggest that plant surfaces may constitute a significant source of atmospheric ice nuclei.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Colorado
  • Erwinia / isolation & purification*
  • Florida
  • Ice*
  • Louisiana
  • Plant Diseases*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas / isolation & purification*
  • Seasons
  • Species Specificity
  • Wisconsin


  • Ice