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Intracellular minerals and metal deposits in prokaryotes



    1. Geomicrobiology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371, USA
    2. Department of Earth Sciences, University of California, Zumberge Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
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    1. School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas 4505 South Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4004, USA
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Corresponding author: K. J. Edwards. Tel.: 213-821-4390; fax: 213-740-8123; e-mail:


Thanks to the work of Terrance J. Beveridge and other pioneers in the field of metal–microbe interactions, prokaryotes are well known to sequester metals and other ions intracellularly in various forms. These forms range from poorly ordered deposits of metals to well-ordered mineral crystals. Studies on well-ordered crystalline structures have generally focused on intracellular organelles produced by magnetotactic bacteria that are ubiquitous in terrestrial and marine environments that precipitate Fe3O4 or Fe3S4, Fe-bearing minerals that have magnetic properties and are enclosed in intracellular membranes. In contrast, studies on less-well ordered minerals have focused on Fe-, As-, Mn-, Au-, Se- and Cd-precipitates that occur intracellularly. The biological and environmental function of these particles remains a matter of debate.