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Biomineralization in Mediterranean Corals: The Role of the Intraskeletal Organic Matrix

July 24, 2014

The precipitation of calcium carbonate was carried out in the presence of the intraskeletal organic matrix (OM) extracted from Mediterranean corals. They were diverse in growth form and trophic strategy, Balanophyllia europaea and Leptopsammia pruvoti—solitary corals, only the first zooxanthellate coral—and Cladocora caespitosa and Astroides calycularis—colonial corals, only the first zooxanthellate coral. The results showed that, although the OM marked differences among species, the diverse influence over the calcium carbonate precipitation was evident only for B. europaea. This OM was the most prone to favor the precipitation of aragonite in the absence of magnesium ions, according to overgrowth and solution precipitation experiments. In artificial seawater, where magnesium ions were present, this OM, as well the one from A. calycularis, precipitated mainly a form of amorphous calcium carbonate different from that obtained with SOM from L. pruvoti or C. caespitosa. The amorphous calcium carbonate from B. europaea was the most stable upon heating up to 100 °C and was the one that mainly converted into aragonite instead of magnesium calcite after heating at 300 °C. All this indicated a higher control of B. europaea OM over the calcium carbonate polymorphism than the other species. The influence of SOMs over precipitate morphology turned out to be also species related. In conclusion, this comparative study has shown that the influence of OM on in vitro precipitation of calcium carbonate was not related to the coral ecology, solitary vs colonial and zooxanthellate vs nonzooxanthellate, and suggested that the coral control over biomineralization process was species specific and encoded in coral genes.

Michela Reggi M, Fermani S, Landi V, Sparla F, Caroselli E, Gizzi F, Dubinsky Z, Levy O, Cuif J-P, Dauphin Y, Goffredo S, Falini G,in press: Biomineralization in Mediterranean Corals: The Role of the Intraskeletal Organic Matrix, Crystal Growth & Design, doi:10.1021/cg5003572. Article (subscription required).

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