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Protoplasma. 2003 Mar;220(3-4):153-61.

Calcium associated with a fibrillar organic matrix in the scleractinian coral Galaxea fascicularis.

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Analytical Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Department of Zoology, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria.


Field emission scanning electron microscopy of frozen-hydrated preparations of the scleractinian coral Galaxea fascicularis revealed organic fibrils which have a diameter of 26 nm and are located between calicoblastic ectodermal cells and the underlying CaCO(3) skeleton. Small (37 nm in diameter) nodular structures observed upon this fibrillar organic material possibly correspond to localised Ca-rich regions detected throughout the calcifying interfacial region of freeze-substituted preparations by X-ray microanalysis. We propose that these Ca-rich regions associated with the organic material are nascent crystals of CaCO(3). Significant amounts of S were also detected throughout the calcifying interfacial region, further verifying the likely presence of organic material. However, the bulk of this S is unlikely to be derived from mucocytes within the calicoblastic ectoderm. It is suggested that in the scleractinian coral G. fascicularis, nodular crystals of CaCO(3) establish upon a fibrillar, S-containing, organic matrix within small but distinct extracellular pockets formed between calicoblastic ectodermal cells and skeleton. This arrangement conforms with the criteria necessary for biomineralisation and with the long-held theory that organic matrices may act as templates for crystal formation and growth in biological mineralising systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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