Biomineralization of Ciliates

Principal Investigator: Dr. Marie-Louise Lemloh

Besides some well-known characteristics of Biobased Materials, such as multifunctionality or recycling properties, the material formation process performed by organisms at ambient and low-energy conditions is a very inspiring aspect this field of research. The formation process of mineralized Biobased Materials, namely biominerals, includes a specific concentration of ions from partially highly diluted solution, their stabilization and transport, and finally a controlled mineralization/crystallization step forming unique biomineral structures.

To study the individual steps of the biomineralization process, eukaryotic single-celled organisms like Ciliates (Protista) represent an excellent model system to discover biomineralization principles with respect to intracellular mechanisms involved in ion enrichment, vesicular mineral transport and biomineral formation.[1,2,3] For this purpose, in vivo studies are combined with high-resolution methods like analytical electron microscopy.

The huge diversity of minerals formed by ciliates offer the possibility to identify common biomineralization principles and to transfer this knowledge in other fields of research addressing e.g. bio-inspired material formation or global challenges such as critical elemental recycling.

[1] Lemloh, M.-L., Key Engineering Materials, 672, 40-46, 2015
[2] Lemloh, M.-L., Marin, F., Herbst, F., Plasseraud, L., Schweikert, M., Baier,J., Bill, J., Brümmer, F., Journal of Structural Biology, 181, 155-161, 2013
[3] Lemloh, M.-L., Hoos, S., Görtz, H.-D., Brümmer, F., European Journal of Protistology, 49, 62-66, 2013

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