Analytical studies of silica biomineralization: towards an understanding of silica processing by diatoms

Eike Brunner, Christian Gröger, Katharina Lutz, Patrick Richthammer, Katrin Spinde, Manfred Sumper
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 2009, 84 (4): 607-16
Diatoms have continued to attract research interest over a long time. One important reason for this research interest is the amazingly beautiful microstructured and nanostructured patterning of the silica-based diatom cell walls. These materials become increasingly important from the materials science point of view. However, many aspects of diatom cell wall formation and patterning are still not fully understood. The present minireview article summarizes our recent knowledge especially with respect to two major topics related to diatom cell wall formation and patterning: (1) uptake and metabolism of silicon by living diatom cells and (2) understanding of the genetic control of cell wall formation. Analytical techniques as well as recent results concerning these two topics are highlighted in this review.

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