Biomineralization is the formation of minerals in the presence of organic molecules, often related with functional and/or structural roles in living organisms. It is a complex process and therefore a simple, in vitro, system is required to understand the effect of isolated molecules on the biomineralization process. In many cases, biomineralization is directed by biopolymers in the extracellular matrix. In order to evaluate the effect of isolated biopolymers on the morphology and structure of calcite in vitro, we have used the vapor diffusion method for the precipitation of calcium carbonate, scanning electron microscopy and micro Raman for the characterization, and ultraviolet-visible (UV/Vis) absorbance for measuring the quantity of a biopolymer in the crystals. In this method, we expose the isolated biopolymers, dissolved in a calcium chloride solution, to gaseous ammonia and carbon dioxide that originate from the decomposition of solid ammonium carbonate. Under the conditions where the solubility product of calcium carbonate is reached, calcium carbonate precipitates and crystals are formed. Calcium carbonate has different polymorphs that differ in their thermodynamic stability: amorphous calcium carbonate, vaterite, aragonite, and calcite. In the absence of biopolymers, under clean conditions, calcium carbonate is mostly present in the calcite form, which is the most thermodynamically stable polymorph of calcium carbonate. This method examines the effect of the biopolymeric additives on the morphology and structure of calcium carbonate crystals. Here, we demonstrate the protocol through the study of an extracellular bacterial protein, TapA, on the formation of calcium carbonate crystals. Specifically, we focus on the experimental set up, and characterization methods, such as optical and electron microscopy as well as Raman spectroscopy.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2019 Journal of Visualized Experiments.
- Bacterial extracellular matrix
- Calcium carbonate
- Issue 147