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Biomineralisation unveiled

A European study investigated different aspects of the biomineralisation process with potential environmental remediation consequences.
Biomineralisation unveiled
Biomineralisation is the production of minerals by various biological systems, including bacteria and algae. These minerals can differ from abiotic components and could thus be used in the design of novel materials, for disease diagnosis and treatment as well as in the hunt for life on different planets.

The scope of the EU-funded TMUPIFE (Tracing microbes using phosphate in Fe-oxide environments) project was to examine the isotopic signatures locked into iron oxides produced by bacteria. On Earth, iron-oxidising microbes represent ancient life forms and can be found in freshwater and saline and acidic conditions. Other planets, such as Mars, are also expected to have significant iron that could act as a potential energy source for similar types of bacteria. As a result, understanding whether microbial iron oxidation can retain a biosignature would provide a target to search for extraterrestrial life.

In this context, scientists studied biomineralisation related to microbial Fe(II) oxidation in both acidic and neutral pH environments and obtained their isotopic signature based on 18-O. Further investigation was performed using state-of-the-art nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry, and the results underscored the potential of using such iron-oxidising bacteria to leach valuable metals from mines.

In another part of the project, researchers employed spectroscopy to examine changes in the mineral components of bone between healthy mice and mice with a genetic condition, which prevents adequate uptake of calcium and phosphate from their diet. Results indicated that calcium and phosphate were vital to the mineral growth sites and directly affected the extent of bone remodelling.

These findings provide insight into the bone remodelling mechanism and have direct implications for hypophosphatemia patients or those suffering from osteoporosis.

Related information


Life Sciences


Biomineralisation, environmental remediation, bacteria, TMUPIFE, iron-oxidising, hypophosphatemia
Record Number: 188611 / Last updated on: 2016-09-27
Domain: Biology, Medicine