Assembly of the Intraskeletal Coral Organic Matrix during Calcium Carbonate Formation

Silvia Milita, Tal Zaquin, Simona Fermani, Devis Montroni, Iddo Pinkas, Luisa Barba, Giuseppe Falini, Tali Mass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scleractinia coral skeleton formation occurs by a heterogeneous process of nucleation and growth of aragonite in which intraskeletal soluble organic matrix molecules, usually referred to as SOM, play a key role. Several studies have demonstrated that they influence the shape and polymorphic precipitation of calcium carbonate. However, the structural aspects that occur during the growth of aragonite have received less attention. In this research, we study the deposition of calcium carbonate on a model substrate, silicon, in the presence of SOM extracted from the skeleton of two coral species representative of different living habitats and colonization strategies, which we previously characterized. The study is performed mainly by grazing incidence X-ray diffraction with the support of Raman spectroscopy and electron and optical microscopies. The results show that SOM macromolecules once adsorbed on the substrate self-assembled in a layered structure and induced the oriented growth of calcite, inhibiting the formation of vaterite. Differently, when SOM macromolecules were dispersed in solution, they induced the deposition of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC), still preserving a layered structure. The entity of these effects was species-dependent, in agreement with previous studies. In conclusion, we observed that in the setup required by the experimental procedure, the SOM from corals appears to present a 2D lamellar structure. This structure is preserved when the SOM interacts with ACC but is lost when the interaction occurs with calcite. This knowledge not only is completely new for coral biomineralization but also has strong relevance in the study of biomineralization on other organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5801-5811
Number of pages11
JournalCrystal Growth and Design
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


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