Ice-forming bacteria will help cause artificial rain

In the minds of most people, bacteria are associated with infection and disease. However, in reality, bacteria-parasites or pathogens represent a very small part of this huge family.

The functions of bacteria are very diverse. For example, Pseudomonas syringae can form ice at high temperatures. Scientists led by Professor Tobias Weidner of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have carefully studied the structure of these bacteria and believe that they can be used to create artificial rain.

To do this, the researchers used a spectrometer to see how bacteria interact with water molecules. It was previously thought that bacteria mimicked the structure of ice crystals, thereby prompting water molecules to form an ice grid.

However, in fact, bacteria create specific water with hydrophilic or hydrophobic areas that repel or, conversely, attract water molecules in contact with them.

The bacteria pseudomonas syringae have been used in alpine resorts and ski slopes in artificial snow installations for over 30 years. In the future, scientists hope to use them to form rain clouds and irrigate the earth with rain where it is vital.