Use of a Hydrophobic Particle Film as a Barrier to Extrinsic Ice Nucleation in Tomato Plants

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Authors:
Michael WisniewskiU.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station, 45 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430

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D. Michael GlennU.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station, 45 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430

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Michael P. FullerSeale-Hayne Faculty, University of Plymouth, Newton-Abbot, United Kingdom TQ12 6NQ

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Extrinsic ice nucleating agents (such as ice-nucleation-active bacteria, dew, etc.) significantly limit the ability of herbaceous plants to supercool. It is believed that with an absence of these extrinsic nucleating agents, a plant could supercool to less than -4 °C. Other evidence, however, indicates that intrinsic nucleating agents may limit the extent of supercooling. Infrared video thermography was used to study freezing in young, `Rutgers' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) plants and to determine if a hydrophobic barrier on the plant surface could prevent extrinsic nucleating agents such as Ice+ bacterial strain (Cit7) of Pseudomonas syringae Van Hall from initiating freezing within a plant. Freezing tests were conducted in a programmable freezing chamber, a radiative frost chamber, and outdoors. Freezing was visualized and recorded on videotape using an infrared radiometer. Freezing of the plants was induced extrinsically by application of droplets (5 to 7 μL) of water containing Cit7. To provide a barrier to the action of extrinsic ice nucleating agents, an emulsion of hydrophobic kaolin (aluminum silicate mineral) was applied to the plant surface before application of an extrinsic nucleating agent. Results indicate that dry, young tomato plants can supercool to as low as -6 °C whereas plants having a single droplet of Cit7 would freeze at -1.5 to -2.5 °C. Application of the hydrophobic barrier blocked the effect of Cit7 and allowed whole plants to also supercool to -6 °C, despite the presence of frozen droplets on the leaf surface. When whole plants were sprayed with water and Cit7 using an aerosol sprayer and exposed to -3 °C, plants coated with the hydrophobic particle film exhibited significantly less foliar injury then nontreated plants. Similar results were obtained using the radiative frost chamber. Experiments conducted under natural frost conditions also resulted in less injury to the coated plants. The hydrophobic kaolin particle film performed better at preventing plants from freezing due to extrinsic ice nucleation than nonaltered, hydrophyllic kaolin alone or an antitranspirant with putative frost protection properties.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author; e-mail: mwisniew@afrs.ars.usda.gov.
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