Activation of intact bacteria and bacterial fragments mixed with agar as cloud droplets and ice crystals in cloud chamber experiments

Suski, Kaitlyn J.; Bell, David M.; Hiranuma, Naruki; Möhler, Ottmar; Imre, Dan; Zelenyuk, Alla

Biological particles, including bacteria and bacterial fragments, have been of much interest due to the special ability of some to nucleate ice at modestly supercooled temperatures. This paper presents results from a recent study conducted on two strains of cultivated bacteria which suggest that bacterial fragments mixed with agar, and not whole bacterial cells, serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Due to the absence of whole bacteria cells in droplets, they are unable to serve as ice nucleating particles (INPs) in the immersion mode under the experimental conditions. Experiments were conducted at the Aerosol Interaction and Dynamics in the Atmosphere (AIDA) cloud chamber at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) by injecting bacteria-containing aerosol samples into the cloud chamber and inducing cloud formation by expansion over a temperature range of inline-formula−5 to inline-formula−12inline-formulaC. Cloud droplets and ice crystals were sampled through a pumped counterflow virtual impactor inlet (PCVI) and their residuals were characterized with a single particle mass spectrometer (miniSPLAT). The size distribution of the overall aerosol was bimodal, with a large particle mode composed of intact bacteria and a mode of smaller particles composed of bacterial fragments mixed with agar that were present in higher concentrations. Results from three expansions with two bacterial strains indicate that the cloud droplet residuals had virtually the same size distribution as the smaller particle size mode and had mass spectra that closely matched those of bacterial fragments mixed with agar. The characterization of ice residuals that were sampled through an ice-selecting PCVI (IS-PCVI) also shows that the same particles that activate to form cloud droplets, bacteria fragments mixed with agar, were the only particle type observed in ice residuals. These results indicate that the unavoidable presence of agar or other growth media in all laboratory studies conducted on cultivated bacteria can greatly affect the results and needs to be considered when interpreting CCN and IN activation data.



Suski, Kaitlyn J. / Bell, David M. / Hiranuma, Naruki / et al: Activation of intact bacteria and bacterial fragments mixed with agar as cloud droplets and ice crystals in cloud chamber experiments. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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