Team:UPCH Peru/Description


What is frost?

Is a meteorological phenomenon in which the air temperature decreases below 0°C (32°F) or less [1].

This phenomenon lasts 6 months being may, june and july the most intense months. Frosts affect several peruvian departments at the Andean Highlands.

The low temperature causes the ice crystals formation mainly in the intercellular spaces, resulting in the cellular water loss and physical damage of the membranes. This cellular damage causes plant dehydration and eventually the plant death [2]

Which are its effects?

This phenomenon limits the plant's growth [3] resulting in crop production losses of up to 100% if the crop is in the flowering stage [4]. Given that one of the main economic activities in Perú is agriculture, this represents a serious problem. According to a 2018 report, frosts caused a total crop loss of up to 180’000 hectares (1´800 km2) and would have a fatal effect on the agricultural sector in 748 peruvian districts [5].

Peruvian agricultural communities are affected the most because agriculture represents the main livelihood of the small to medium farmers that live in them [5]. Their harvest is for self-consumption and for selling. If there are significant losses, they also lose a source of food and income, perpetuating their already vulnerable condition.

The crop losses not only affect peruvian farmers but also the general population because the products of the harvest would not be available, resulting in a food security problem.

Current solutions: Not good enough

The existing solutions are low-tech and comprises:

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Scheduling the sowing time [1,4]

It has inconveniences, because global warming changes frosts' frequency and intensity.

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Sowing at slopes [1,4]

It has proved to be efficient in reducing crop losses, but depends on possessing crops in these areas.

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Covering the crops with blankets[6]

It is expensive, demands time and causes pollution.

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Sowing at greenhouses [7]

It is expensive for small to medium scale farmers.


Given that there is a great impact problem, our proposed solution will be too. Our goal is to develop an antifreeze product which will be administered externally. This product will consist of a solution of recombinantly expressed and purified antifreeze proteins, called AFPs.


They are a type of ice binding proteins (IBPs) which bind to the ice crystals surface preventing ice crystal growth. They follow an adsorption-inhibition mechanism. The AFPs bind to the surface of one face of the growing ice. The ice continues to grow for several nanometers, starting from a flat surface that turns into a round surface as the ice grows (microcurvature). Finally, a critical radius is reached in which growth becomes energetically unfavorable. They have two main properties: thermal hysteresis and ice recrystallization inhibition. The first lowers the freezing point and the other one prevents the growth of large ice crystals at the expense of smaller ones. [8].

Quick facts about us:

We have chosen three types of AFPs of two organisms: LpAFP and LpIRI3 from the grass Lolium perenne, and TmAFP from the insect Tenebrio molitor.

See more in Design

We have successfully produced and purified the LpAFP in the laboratory.

See more in Results

We plan this product to be applied externally as a foliar fertilizer by peruvian farmers. It is expected this product to be accepted by several communities of farmers because of their many adequate characteristics.

See more in Proposed Implementation


The idea came up by one of our team members, Valeria Villar, closely affected by this problem. She realized that not only her family suffers from the consequences of this phenomenon, but also several agricultural communities in the Peruvian Andean region.

The National Diffusion of our project and our Human Practices work showed us that this is a meaningful project that will positively impact farmers' lives and, thus, all Peruvians.

See more in Science Communication and Human Practices


  1. SENAMHI. (2010). Atlas de heladas del Perú. FAO - Organización de Las Naciones Unidas Para La Agricultura y La Alimentación, 50.
  2. Wei, C., Huang, J., Wang, X., Blackburn, G. A., Zhang, Y., Wang, S. and Mansaray, L. R. (2017). Hyperspectral characterization of freezing injury and its biochemical impacts in oilseed rape leaves. Remote Sensing of Environment, 195, 56–66.
  3. Yadollahpour, A., Bagheri, N., & Rahimina, H. (2016). INA gene inactivation in isolated strains from frozen leaves and its effects on plant freezing. Cercetari Agronomice in Moldova, (3), 63–70.
  4. Carrasco, W. (2019). Conociendo sobre las heladas [In person]. Perú.
  5. Instituto Crecer. (2018). Del frío de la burocracia a las heladas de la Sierra | Blogs | NOTICIAS GESTIÓN PERÚ.
  6. Ricarldi, R (2020). Entrevista Proyecto #203242 [Call]. Perú.
  7. Contexto Ganadero (2018). Fitotoldos, medida para combatir las heladas en Perú.
  8. Davies, P. L. (2014). Ice-binding proteins: A remarkable diversity of structures for stopping and starting ice growth. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 39, pp. 548–555.