The nacre-prism transition of the mollusc shell Pinctada margaritifera was studied using scanning electron microscopy, electron probe micro-analysis (EPMA) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS). Mineralogical change is correlated with a change in organic matrix. Previous analyses had shown that sugars were involved in the transition layer (fibrous aragonite). The new Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS) and TOF-SIMS maps show that the modifications at the layer boundary are complex, and that proteins and lipids are also involved. Detailed TOF-SIMS maps show that the thick organic envelopes surrounding the prisms, and between the prisms and the fibrous aragonitic layer, are not composed by regular layers, but are a patchwork of various molecules. The amino acid compositions of the nacreous and prismatic layer are compared thanks to the TOF-SIMS localized analyses.
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