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Open Access Research

Influence of zinc on the calcium carbonate biomineralization of Halomonas halophila

Dirk Rothenstein*, Johannes Baier, Thomas D Schreiber, Vera Barucha and Joachim Bill

Author Affiliations

Institute for Materials Science, Heisenbergstraße 3, 70569, Stuttgart, Germany

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Aquatic Biosystems 2012, 8:31  doi:10.1186/2046-9063-8-31

Published: 1 December 2012

Abstract

Background

The salt tolerance of halophilic bacteria make them promising candidates for technical applications, like isolation of salt tolerant enzymes or remediation of contaminated saline soils and waters. Furthermore, some halophilic bacteria synthesize inorganic solids resulting in organic–inorganic hybrids. This process is known as biomineralization, which is induced and/or controlled by the organism. The adaption of the soft and eco-friendly reaction conditions of this formation process to technical syntheses of inorganic nano materials is desirable. In addition, environmental contaminations can be entrapped in biomineralization products which facilitate the subsequent removal from waste waters. The moderately halophilic bacteria Halomonas halophila mineralize calcium carbonate in the calcite polymorph. The biomineralization process was investigated in the presence of zinc ions as a toxic model contaminant. In particular, the time course of the mineralization process and the influence of zinc on the mineralized inorganic materials have been focused in this study.

Results

H. halophila can adapt to zinc contaminated medium, maintaining the ability for biomineralization of calcium carbonate. Adapted cultures show only a low influence of zinc on the growth rate. In the time course of cultivation, zinc ions accumulated on the bacterial surface while the medium depleted in the zinc contamination. Intracellular zinc concentrations were below the detection limit, suggesting that zinc was mainly bound extracellular. Zinc ions influence the biomineralization process. In the presence of zinc, the polymorphs monohydrocalcite and vaterite were mineralized, instead of calcite which is synthesized in zinc-free medium.

Conclusions

We have demonstrated that the bacterial mineralization process can be influenced by zinc ions resulting in the modification of the synthesized calcium carbonate polymorph. In addition, the shape of the mineralized inorganic material is chancing through the presence of zinc ions. Furthermore, the moderately halophilic bacterium H. halophila can be applied for the decontamination of zinc from aqueous solutions.