Chapter 5. Interactions between Biomineralization and Function of Diatom Frustules

  1. Prof. Dr. Edmund Bäuerlein
  1. Christian Hamm

Published Online: 20 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9783527619443.ch5

Handbook of Biomineralization: Biological Aspects and Structure Formation

Handbook of Biomineralization: Biological Aspects and Structure Formation

How to Cite

Hamm, C. (2007) Interactions between Biomineralization and Function of Diatom Frustules, in Handbook of Biomineralization: Biological Aspects and Structure Formation (ed E. Bäuerlein), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527619443.ch5

Editor Information

  1. Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18 A, 82152 Planegg, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 MAR 2008
  2. Published Print: 25 MAY 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527316410

Online ISBN: 9783527619443

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Keywords:

  • diatoms;
  • arms race;
  • evolution;
  • functional morphology;
  • biomechanics

Summary

The very complex, biomineralized silica shells (frustules) of diatoms - autotrophic protists belonging to the heterokontophyta — are currently subject to investigations concerning the molecular mechanisms which precipitate silica and influence its morphogenesis. The formation of biominerals is fascinating because it occurs at ambient temperature, and because organisms are capable of efficiently manipulating mineral growth into forms and composite organizations that inorganic processes would never achieve. Recent results have shown that the growth of biominerals, including the silica-forming diatom shells, can be strongly influenced by the presence of diverse species-specific organic components. The geometry of biominerals and their interpenetration with macromolecules are defined by a production process which seems to be optimized for efficiency. However, it is not only the efficiency of this process, but also the quality of the product -the biomineralized structure - and its adaptive success which finally controls the details of biomineralization. Thus, it is argued here that it would be helpful to assess the function of biomineralized structures in order to understand the species-specific characteristics in the process of diatom biomineralization. Likewise, it is of interest to assess the physical properties of specific biominerals to transfer knowledge on biomineralization into diverse technological fields.