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In vitro synthesis of amorphous Mg-, Ca-, Sr- and Ba-carbonates: what do we learn about intracellular calcification by cyanobacteria?

Abstract : Some cyanobacteria, including Candidatus Gloeomargarita lithophora, which was isolated from Lake Alchichica (Mexico), can form intracellular carbonates. This contradicts the common paradigm that cyanobacterial calcification is always extracellular and suggests that calcification might be controlled by these cyanobacterial species. Intracellular carbonates have several peculiar characteristics: they are relatively small (between 60 and 500 nm), they are poorly crystalline, and they have Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca ratios much higher than the solution in which the cells grow. It is therefore crucial to understand whether these unique features may indicate the involvement of specific biological processes. Here, in vitro abiotic syntheses were performed to synthesize Mg-, Ca-, Sr- and Ba-containing carbonates with compositions, crystallinities and sizes close to those observed in intracellularly calcifying cyanobacteria. Precipitates were characterized by scanning and transmission electron microscopies coupled with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis and x-ray diffraction. The size and the poor crystallinity of cyanobacterial intracellular carbonates could be mimicked under these abiotic conditions. It was shown that similarly to Mg, elements such as Sr and Ba can favour stabilization of poorly crystalline carbonates. In contrast, the differential partitioning of Sr, Ba and Ca between the solution and the solids as observed in cyanobacteria could not be mimicked in vitro. This provides keys to a better understanding of biological processes involved in the formation of intracellular carbonates by some cyanobacteria, including the involvement of membrane transporters.
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Nithavong Cam, Thomas Georgelin, Maguy Jaber, Jean-François Lambert, Karim Benzerara. In vitro synthesis of amorphous Mg-, Ca-, Sr- and Ba-carbonates: what do we learn about intracellular calcification by cyanobacteria?. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2015, 161, pp.36-49. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2015.04.003⟩. ⟨hal-01147190⟩

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