• cheilostomata;
  • biomineralization;
  • morphology;
  • avicularia

Abstract. Bryozoans are among a diverse range of invertebrates capable of secreting calcium carbonate skeletons. Relatively little is known about biomineralization in bryozoans, despite the importance of understanding biomineralization processes for nanotechnology and the threats imposed by ocean acidification on organisms having calcareous skeletons. Ten species of cheilostome bryozoans that are reported to have bimineralic skeletons of calcite and aragonite are studied here using Raman spectroscopy. This technique allowed identification of the two mineral phases at submicron spatial resolution, allowing the distributions of calcite and aragonite within bryozoan skeletons to be determined with unprecedented precision. Confirming previous findings based on the use of chemical stains, most of the bimineralic species analyzed exhibited a calcitic skeletal framework, composed of basal, vertical, and inner frontal walls, having aragonite deposited subsequently onto the outer surfaces of the frontal walls. In one species (Odontionella cyclops), aragonite formed the superstructure above the autozooids, and in two others, traces of aragonite were detected on the undersides of the frontal shields. Using Raman spectroscopy, it was possible for the first time to determine the mineralogy of small-scale structures, including orificial rims, condyles and hinge teeth, avicularian pivotal bars and rostra, and ascopore rims and sieve plates. Even when surrounded by aragonitic frontal shields, these structures were found typically to be calcitic, the two exceptions being the aragonitic avicularia of Stylopoma inchoans and O. cyclops. Unexpectedly, the first-formed part of the basal wall at the distalmost growing edge of Pentapora foliacea was found to consist mainly of aragonite. This may point to a precursory phase of biomineralization comparable with the unusual mineralogies identified previously in the earliest-formed skeletons of members of some other invertebrate phyla.