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Ice-Nucleating Bacteria from the Guts of Two Sub-Antarctic Beetles, Hydromedion sparsutum and Perimylops antarcticus (Perimylopidae)

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The site of ice nucleation in the freeze-tolerant, sub-Antarctic beetle Hydromedion sparsutum has been investigated. Ice+ bacteria, active at above -2.0°C, were isolated from the guts of beetles and identified as a fluorescent Pseudomonas species. Other possible sites of nucleation, including the hemolymph, were examined but had a lower activity. Ice+ bacteria were isolated from mixed populations, isolated from the guts of adult beetles, and grown on nutrient agar plates and in nutrient broth. Nucleation activity of the broth culture peaked after only 2 days although the number of live cells continued to increase until day 6. These cultures were used to determine the maximum nucleation activity of a bacterial suspension in sterile distilled water (-3.4°C) and the dilution factor required to cause a 50% reduction in activity (104). The original bacterial suspension had an absorbance of 0.5 measured at 660 nm and contained 6 × 1011 bacteria per milliliter. From this it is estimated that only 1 in 106 bacteria possessed the highest levels of ice-nucleating activity. Other insect species, including Perimylops antarcticus, which are found in habitats similar to that of H. sparsutum, were examined for the presence of ice+ bacteria. All contained ice-nucleating bacteria in their guts but with a lower level of activity than in H. sparsutum.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, United Kingdom

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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