Rain from bacteria?

October 7, 2009 at 9:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The rainmakers. Left to right: Drs Ahmed Amri, Siham Asaad and Maarten van Ginkel

Cutting-edge research by ICARDA, Montana State University, USA, and INRA-Avignon, France, is studying the role of plant-associated bacteria in producing rain. Some kinds of bacteria have the ability to create ‘ice nuclei’ that catalyze the formation of raindrops. ICARDA scientists have already confirmed the presence of such bacteria at the ICARDA farm in Syria. The study will now examine how different crop species and land management practices influence the microclimate near the plant canopy – and therefore the abundance and variety of these bacteria. The results will help understand the potential impact of cropping practices on rainfall patterns in Mediterranean agro-ecological zones. Ultimately, the team hopes to identify dryland crops that could serve as sources of biological ice nucleators.

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