Valeria Molinero Study on Fungal Ice Nucleators
New research from the University of Utah, with Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Polymer Research and Idaho’s Boise State University, is shedding fresh light on the role of biological agents—produced by fungi of all things—in ice formation.
Valeria Molinero, a theoretical chemist with the University of Utah’s College of Science, is at the forefront of sorting out this mystery, which holds potential implications for improving our understanding of how life affects precipitation and climate.
“They are proteins that are excreted to the environment and these particles are extremely effective for ice nucleation,” says Molinero. “But the way the organism benefits from these ice nucleation abilities is not known and it doesn’t exist in all the possible variants of the organism. We don’t know why they form ice or whether there’s an advantage.”