Surfaces of silver birch ( Betula pendula) are sources of biological ice nuclei: in vivo and in situ investigations

Seifried, Teresa M.; Bieber, Paul; Felgitsch, Laura; Vlasich, Julian; Reyzek, Florian; Schmale III, David G.; Grothe, Hinrich

Silver birch (Betula pendula) is known to contain ice-nucleating macromolecules (INMs) to survive in harsh environments. However, little is known about the release and transport of INMs from birch trees into the atmosphere. In this study, we conducted in situ and in vivo investigations on INMs from nine birches growing in an alpine valley (Ötztal, Austria). A detailed analysis of drill cores showed that INM concentration increases towards outer layers, reaching its maximum near the surface. Aqueous extracts from the surfaces of leaves, bark, primary wood and secondary wood contained INMs (inline-formula34∕36) with concentrations ranging from inline-formula9.9×105 to inline-formula1.8×109 INMs cminline-formula−2. In a field study, we analysed the effect of precipitation on the release of these INMs attached to the surface of the trees. These experiments showed that INMs are splashed and aerosolized into the environment during rainfall events, at concentrations and freezing temperatures similar to in vivo samples. Our work sheds new light on the release and transport of INMs from birch surfaces into the troposphere. Birches growing in boreal and alpine forests should be considered an important terrestrial source of INMs.

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Seifried, Teresa M. / Bieber, Paul / Felgitsch, Laura / et al: Surfaces of silver birch (Betula pendula) are sources of biological ice nuclei: in vivo and in situ investigations. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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