The Role of Organic Matrices in Biomineralization

The biological formation of inorganic materials (biomineralization) is a very widespread biological phenomenon that occurs throughout the evolutionary tree. Biominerals have amazingly complex structures and outstanding properties, which by far exceed synthetically produced minerals. Prominent examples of biominerals are the single domain magnetite nanocrystals of magnetotactic bacteria acting as sensitive magnetic field actuators, the silica-based cell walls of diatoms having optical waveguide properties, and the nacreous calcium carbonate layers of mollusks exhibiting exceptionally high fracture resistance. Despite the wide spectrum of organisms that are used as research objects in biomineralization, there is one key fundamental question behind all biomineralization research: How is an organism able to generate an inorganic material with species specific morphologies? Past research has uncovered striking similarities between biomineralization processes from phylogenetically very distant organisms and completely different mineral chemistries. The similarities include the presence of nanopatterned, insoluble organic matrices during biomineral formation. Since 2015 the Research Unit “Nanomee” (FOR 2038;, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, has utilized diatoms as model systems for studying the role of insoluble organic matrices in biological silica morphogenesis. In this effort the Nanomee research groups have employed methods from biochemistry, molecular genetics, biophysics, bioorganic synthesis, and molecular modeling. This topical collection contains latest research results from the Nanomee groups as well as from colleagues working organic matrices in other biomineral forming organisms. The Keywords are: biomineralization; organic matrix; diatoms; silica; calcium carbonate.


  • Nils Kröger

    Nils Kröger completed his PhD in Biochemistry at University of Regensburg in 1995. After postdoctoral research in Cell Biology at the Universities of Regensburg and Melbourne, he became a Lecturer at the University of Regensburg in 1998 and a Reader in 2001. From 2005-2010 he was Assistant Professor and in 2011 Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Since 2012 Nils Kröger is a Full Professor and the Chair of Biomimetic Materials at Dresden University of Technology in Germany.

  • Eike Brunner

    Eike Brunner received his Diploma (1987) and PhD (1989) from Leipzig University. After postdoctoral research at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, he returned to Leipzig and was habilitated (1996). He received a Heisenberg fellowship from DFG. After a research stay at the University of California at Berkeley (1997/98), he became Professor of Biophysics at the University of Regensburg in 2001. In 2007, he was appointed with TU Dresden as Professor of Bioanalytical Chemistry. His research is focused to solid-state and in situ NMR spectroscopic investigations of materials of like biominerals, MOFs, and porous carbons.

  • Lara Ann Estroff

    Lara A. Estroff studied chemistry at Swarthmore College (B.A., 1997) before receiving a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University (2003, with Prof. Andrew Hamilton). After two years in Prof. George Whitesides’ lab at Harvard University, in 2005 she started her independent career in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Cornell University, where she currently serves as department Chair. Dr. Estroff’s research ranges from biomineralization and pathological mineralization to synthetic bio-inspired crystalline materials.

  • Frédéric Marin

    Frédéric Marin has 30-years experience in the field of biomineralization. He exerted his research at University Paris XI, Orsay, France (1989-1994, PhD and 1st post-doc), at Leiden University, The Netherlands (1994-2000, 2nd post-doc), and in a biotech company (IsoTis, Bilthoven, The Netherlands, 2001-2002). Following his recruitment by CNRS Dijon in 2003, he has set up a lab devoted to the study of CaCO3 biominerals, with a focus on skeletal matrices. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, seven book chapters, 17 proceedings papers, and several articles for a general audience.

Articles (14 in this collection)