• Apatite;
  • bacteria;
  • biomineralization;
  • calcite;
  • clay minerals

Calcium hydroxyapatite and calcite precipitates around bacteria were observed in 2-week-old alluvial topsoil (Roussillon area, SE France). This observation prompted a laboratory study of Ca2+ and PO43− incorporation into hydroxyapatite and Ca2+ into calcite mediated by bacteria using similar topsoil material, but free from apatite and calcite. Subsamples were prepared using three different grain sizes, and experiments were undertaken using sucrose and different contents of Ca2+ and PO43−. Mineralization experiments proceeded over 5 days. Calcium and PO43− sorption onto clay influenced the Ca/P ratio in the solutions. Hydroxyapatite and calcite precipitation only occurred in unsterilized samples. The presence of clay minerals promoted biomineralization.