Formation and characteristics of biomimetic mineralo-organic particles in natural surface water
Author(s)Wu, Cheng-Yeu; Martel, Jan; Wong, Tsui-Yin; Liu, Chien-Chun; Lin, Cheng-Wei; Young, John D.; Young, David Y.; ... Show more Show less
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Recent studies have shown that nanoparticles exist in environmental water but the formation, characteristics and fate of such particles remain incompletely understood. We show here that surface water obtained from various sources (ocean, hot springs, and soil) produces mineralo-organic particles that gradually increase in size and number during incubation. Seawater produces mineralo-organic particles following several cycles of filtration and incubation, indicating that this water possesses high particle-seeding potential. Electron microscopy observations reveal round, bacteria-like mineral particles with diameters of 20 to 800 nm, which may coalesce and aggregate to form mineralized biofilm-like structures. Chemical analysis of the particles shows the presence of a wide range of chemical elements that form mixed mineral phases dominated by calcium and iron sulfates, silicon and aluminum oxides, sodium carbonate, and iron sulfide. Proteomic analysis indicates that the particles bind to proteins of bacterial, plant and animal origins. When observed under dark-field microscopy, mineral particles derived from soil-water show biomimetic morphologies, including large, round structures similar to cells undergoing division. These findings have important implications not only for the recognition of biosignatures and fossils of small microorganisms in the environment but also for the geochemical cycling of elements, ions and organic matter in surface water.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Nature Publishing Group
Wu, Cheng-Yeu et al. “Formation and Characteristics of Biomimetic Mineralo-Organic Particles in Natural Surface Water.” Scientific Reports 6.1 (2016): n. pag. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited
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