Organism–quartz interactions in structuring benthic communities: towards a marine bio-mineralogy?



Abiotic and biotic factors determine the distribution and structure of marine benthic communities but the processes invoked to explain such patterns are often inadequate. We demonstrate that the presence of quartz grains in sediments inhibits animal colonization on marine soft-bottoms. We suggest that this phenomenon may be related to the oxidant properties of the quartz crystal surface derived by the generation of silicon-based radicals due to water movement. The interaction between organisms and the crystallographic structure of substrata might play a neglected but important role in structuring coastal benthic communities.