Bacteria grow minerals

Influence on the formation of new minerals

Mother-of-pearl abalone Uni Bremen
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They provide a healthy intestinal flora, but can also cause cholera. Now another step has been taken to understand how bacteria can even produce minerals.

{1l} The geochemist and mineralogist dr. Jeremy B. Fein has studied how bacteria affect the regeneration of minerals. Fein is a director and professor at the Environmental Molecular Science Institute of Notre Dame University in Indiana, USA. Not so long ago it was assumed that only chemical conditions, such as acidity, are responsible for mineral formation. Now we know that even bacteria influence this process by attaching metals to their surface. Fein and his team have now researched an important step in these bacterial mineralization processes.

Positively charged metal ions, called cations, attach to receptor sites on the negatively charged cell wall of bacteria. Laboratory studies have shown that bacterial cell walls can take a variety of metal cations from solutions. This process is called adsorption.

Fein has used special computational models in his study. They describe the influence it has on the reactions in aqueous solutions when metal ions dock onto these receptor sites. Because adsorption reduces the amount of ions dissolved in the water and thus shifts the ratio of dissolved and undissolved ions in the water. The same happens in a saturated salt solution, from which salt is removed by crystallizing out on a surface. "The bacteria thus concentrate metal ions from the aqueous solution by binding them to their surface, " explains Prof. Dr. med. Jörn Peckmann from the DFG Research Center Ocean Borders at the University of Bremen. "By doing so, they influence what and how many minerals form."

Fein has taken the first steps in his study to predict in the model how bacteria influence mineral formation through this process. According to Fein's study, it is important to know all the factors that influence the attachment of metals to the bacterial cell walls. This includes the number of docking sites on the cell wall as well as the exact reaction sequences during adsorption. While the models have made great strides, Fein said, there is much to explore in this area. "If we know all the factors, we can also simulate more complex systems, such as how different types of bacteria interact in mineral formation." Display

Further information on the mineral formation of bacteria

They provide a healthy intestinal flora, but can also cause cholera. Now another step has been taken to understand how bacteria can even produce minerals.

The geochemist and mineralogist Jeremy B. Fein has studied how bacteria affect the regeneration of minerals. Fein is a director and professor at the Environmental Molecular Science Institute of Notre Dame University in Indiana, USA. Not so long ago, it was assumed that only chemical conditions, such as acidity, are responsible for mineral formation. Now we know that even bacteria influence this process by attaching metals to their surface. Fein and his team have now researched an important step in these bacterial mineralization processes.

Positively charged metal ions, called cations, attach to receptor sites on the negatively charged cell wall of bacteria. Laboratory studies have shown that bacterial cell walls can take a variety of metal cations from solutions. This process is called adsorption.

Fein has used special computational models in his study. They describe the influence it has on the reactions in aqueous solutions when metal ions dock onto these receptor sites. Because adsorption reduces the amount of ions dissolved in the water and thus shifts the ratio of dissolved and not dissolved ions in the water. The same thing happens in a saturated salt solution, from which salt is removed by crystallization on a surface. "The bacteria thus concentrate metal ions from the aqueous solution by binding them to their surface", explains Prof. Dr. med. Jörn Peckmann from the DFG Research Center for the Ocean Rivers of the University of Bremen. Thus they influence which and how many minerals form.

Fein has taken the first steps in his study to predict in the model how bacteria influence mineral formation through this process. According to Fein s study, it is important to know all factors that influence the attachment of metals to the bacterial cell walls. This includes the number of docking sites on the cell wall as well as the exact reaction processes during adsorption. While the models have made great strides, Fein said, there is much to explore in this area. "If we know all the factors, we can also simulate more complex systems, such as how different types of bacteria interact in mineral formation."

Further information on the mineral formation of bacteria

(GeoUnion / Jeremy Fein, University of Notre Dame, Peter Peckmann, (RCOM), May 14, 2004 - Alice Hossain, Kirsten Achenbach DFG Research Center for Ocean Rands (RCOM))