Biomineralization of Unicellular Organisms: An Unusual Membrane Biochemistry for the Production of Inorganic Nano- And Microstructures

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2003 Feb 10;42(6):614-41. doi: 10.1002/anie.200390176.


With evolution, Nature has ingeniously succeeded in giving rise to an impressive variety of inorganic structures. Every organism that synthesizes biogenic minerals does so in a form that is unique to that species. This biomineralization is apparently biologically controlled. It is thus expected that both the synthesis and the form of every specific biogenic mineral is genetically determined and controlled. An investigation of the mechanism of biomineralization has only become possible with the development of modern methods in molecular biology. Unicellular organisms such as magnetic bacteria, calcareous algae, and diatoms, all of which are amongst the simplest forms of life, are particularly suited to be investigated by these methods. Crystals and composites of proteins and amorphous inorganic polymers are formed as complex structures within these organisms; these structures are not known in conventional inorganic chemistry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Eukaryota / metabolism*
  • Eukaryota / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Minerals / chemistry
  • Minerals / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phylogeny
  • Species Specificity


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Minerals