Biomineralization: Understanding of basic mechanisms for the design of novel strategies in nanobiotechnology
Biomineralization is the formation of minerals by living cells and organisms. To understand the processes involved in biomineralization, at the cutting edge between inorganic and organic world, the cooperation between molecular and cell biologists, inorganic chemists, and physical chemists, but also computational scientists is required. The products formed by biomineralization are often composite materials consisting of both mineral and organic components. The ability of organisms to form nanostructured biominerals with high precision and in large copy number under biological and environmentally benign conditions makes the mechanisms underlying biomineral formation extremely interesting for nano(bio)technology, a key technology of the 21st century. In the proposed Marie Curie Initial Training Network, we focus on the formation of biominerals consisting of calcium carbonate or biosilica-glass due to the enormous interest and importance that these biominerals have achieved in the last few years. The successful research on this topic which also includes the future industrial application of the results relies on the coordinated multidisciplinary effort of highly qualified researchers with special skills in different disciplines. There is, in particular, an urgent need for training of young researchers in Europe in this pioneering area of research. The goal of this multidisciplinary network is to understand basic principles of biomineralization (bio-silicification and bio-calcification) in order to develop novel strategies to apply the biological mechanisms in the field of nanotechnology. To achieve this goal, an effective and milestone-oriented joint training and transfer-of-knowledge programme will be established. It is expected that - through training of young researchers in the most advanced techniques to study biomineralization – this network will strengthen the competitiveness of the European Union in this important field of present-day research.