Unique surface and internal structure of struvite crystals formed by Proteus mirabilis

Urol Res. 2012 Dec;40(6):699-707. doi: 10.1007/s00240-012-0501-3. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Crystallization of struvite from artificial urine in the presence of Proteus mirabilis microorganisms depends strongly on pH value. At small value of pH, struvite yields crystals of coffin-like habit with very specific structure. The analysis using scanning electron microscopy shows that the crystals possess well-defined faces, but higher magnifications show very specific structuration as if the crystals were built from small three-dimensional subunits. The possible role of microorganisms in the formation of such a structuration is analyzed. At higher pH value, the crystals exhibit dendritic growth with main trunk and branches. Although the formation mechanism of the specific structuration as well as dendritic structures is unknown, the nature of forces for such an alignment is analyzed. The revealed porous internal structure of struvite is also analyzed. The investigations provide evidence for the importance of biological regulation in crystallization process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallization
  • Humans
  • Magnesium Compounds / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Proteus mirabilis / metabolism*
  • Struvite
  • Surface Properties


  • Magnesium Compounds
  • Phosphates
  • Struvite