Mollusk shell formation: a source of new concepts for understanding biomineralization processes

Chemistry. 2006 Jan 23;12(4):980-7. doi: 10.1002/chem.200500980.


The biological approach to forming crystals is proving to be most surprising. Mollusks build their shells by using a hydrophobic silk gel, very acidic aspartic acid rich proteins, and apparently also an amorphous precursor phase from which the crystals form. All this takes place in a highly structured chitinous framework. Here we present ideas on how these disparate components work together to produce the highly structured pearly nacreous layer of the mollusk shell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Carbonate / chemistry*
  • Chitin / chemistry*
  • Crystallization
  • Gels
  • Mollusca*
  • Silk / chemistry*


  • Gels
  • Silk
  • Chitin
  • Calcium Carbonate