Structure and composition of the boundary zone between aragonitic crossed lamellar and calcitic prism layers in the shell of Concholepas concholepas (Mollusca, Gastropoda)


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Mollusc shells are composed of two or three layers. The main layers are well-studied, but the structural and chemical changes at their boundaries are usually neglected. A microstructural, mineralogical, and biochemical study of the boundary between the inner crossed lamellar and outer prismatic layers of the shell of Concholepas concholepas showed that this boundary is not an abrupt transition. Localized structural and chemical analyses showed that patches of the inner aragonitic crossed lamellar layer persist within the outer calcitic prismatic layer. Moreover, a thin aragonitic layer with a fibrous structure is visible between the two main layers. A three-step biomineralization process is proposed that involves changes in the chemical and biochemical composition of the last growth increments of the calcite prisms. The changes in the secretory process in the mantle cells responsible for the shell layer succession are irregular and discontinuous.