Biomineralization in sponges, gastropods, shellfish and sea urchins through shell, spicule and tooth calcification is one of the most remarkable examples in nature of matrix-mediated processes. These matrices are a mixture of proteins, glycoproteins and polysaccharides that self-assemble and control the calcium carbonate polymorph (calcite, aragonite) and the size, shape and texture of the organism's mineralized structures. The final results are shell, spicules and teeth which exhibit superior mechanical properties. However, despite this is being a key biological process, relatively little is known about the mechanisms that direct this process and how the interaction and influence of environmental factors and pollutants affect biomineralization.
For these reasons this project focuses on studying and comparing key biological and inorganic aspects of shellfish, gastropod and sea urchin biomineralization during embryonal development through the use of advanced materials characterization and proteomics techniques as a basis for furthering the development of a fundamental and comprehensive model of biomineralization.