Flying bacteria to blame for bad weather, scientists claim after finding microbes in hailstones | Mail Online

Flying bacteria to blame for bad weather, scientists claim after finding microbes in hailstones

From the page: “Dust grains and pollution droplets may both serve as ‘nucleating particles’. But the new find has helped confirm suspicions that in many cases living micro-organisms cause the rain to fall.

Lead researcher Dr Alexander Michaud, from Montana State University, said: ‘Bacteria have been found within the embryo, the first part of a hailstone to develop. The embryo is a snapshot of what was involved with the event that initiated growth of the hailstone.
‘In order for precipitation to occur, a nucleating particle must be present to allow for aggregation of water molecules.

‘There is growing evidence that these nuclei can be bacteria or other biological particles.’

Dr Michaud’s team analysed hailstones over 5cm in diameter that were collected after a storm in June last year.
The large stones were separated into four layers, each of which was analysed in turn.

Living bacteria that could be grown in the laboratory were present in the highest numbers in the inner cores of the hailstones.

The research was presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans.

A bug that infects plants, Pseudomonas syringae, is the most well-studied biological rain-maker.

Co-researcher Dr Brent Christner, from Louisiana State University in the US, said: ‘Ice nucleating strains of P. syringae possess a gene that encodes a protein in their outer membrane that binds water molecules in an ordered arrangement, providing a very efficient nucleating template that enhances ice crystal formation.’

Computer simulations suggest that high concentrations of biological particles may influence precipitation levels at the ground, cloud cover, and even the way the Earth is insulated from solar radiation.”

I will feel more comfortable with this finding when there are other research studies that confirm it.

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