By Heinz A. Lowenstam
Targeting the fundamental ideas of mineral formation by way of organisms, this complete quantity explores questions that relate to a large choice of fields, from biology and biochemistry, to paleontology, geology, and scientific examine. Preserved fossils are used so far geological deposits and archaeological artifacts. fabrics scientists examine mineralized tissues to figure out the layout ideas utilized by organisms to shape powerful fabrics. Many scientific difficulties also are linked to basic and pathological mineralization. Lowenstam, the pioneer researcher in biomineralization, and Weiner speak about the elemental ideas of mineral formation through organisms and evaluate a variety of mineralization approaches. Reference tables directory all recognized circumstances during which organisms shape minerals are incorporated.
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Although we are concerned specifically with the subject of "control over nucleation," we note that it is not uncommon for organisms to exert no apparent control over the nucleation event, but to still control other aspects of mineralization. The formation of some amorphous mineral phases may belong in this category. Control over nucleation can be indirect in the sense that molecules in solution may specifically inhibit the formation of nascent nuclei of one mineral phase and, in so doing, allow another to form.
The cells are either part of the boundaries of the space set up for this purpose or enclose or secrete the vesicles in which mineralization is to occur. They are usually thoroughly equipped with the means to actively pump ions of choice into the mineralizing compartment or, when appropriate, allow passive diffusion of specific ions. Ion-specific pumps and channels are part of the machinery of all cells and they are no doubt fully utilized in controlled biomineralization to determine the order in which the ions are introduced into the mineralization compartment, the ionic composition, and the degree of saturation to be achieved.
For convenience we refer to all these macromolecules as acidic macromolecules. After demineralization there is often an insoluble fraction as well. Biochemical characterization shows that these macromolecules extracted from different tissues have little in common with each other, except that they are usually cross-linked and relatively hydrophobic when compared to the acidic constituents. As they are almost always quite distinct from the acidic constituents, we refer to them as framework macromolecules.