Structural characterization of the transient amorphous calcium carbonate precursor phase in sea urchin embryos

Yael Politi, Yael Levi-Kalisman, Sefi Raz, Fred Wilt, Lia Addadi, Steve Weiner, Irit Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sea urchin embryos form their calcitic spicular skeletons via a transient precursor phase composed of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC). Transition of ACC to calcite in whole larvae and isolated spicules during development has been monitored using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Remarkably, the changing nature of the mineral phase can clearly be monitored in the whole embryo samples. More detailed analyses of isolated spicules at different stages of development using both XAS and infrared spectroscopy demonstrate that the short-range order of the transient ACC phase resembles calcite, even though infrared spectra show that the spicules are mostly composed of an amorphous mineral phase. The coordination sphere is at first distorted but soon adopts the octahedral symmetry typical of calcite. Long-range lattice rearrangement follows to form the calcite single crystal of the mature spicule. These studies demonstrate the feasibility of real-time monitoring of mineralized-tissue development using XAS, including the structural characterization of transient amorphous phases at the atomic level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1298
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Volume16
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2006

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