Scientific Publication in Marine Biology - Physiology team

Calcium carbonate, CaCO3, which makes up about 4 % of the earth's crust, is mainly formed by the sedimentation of marine biominerals. This material occurs in a variety of crystalline structures, including aragonite, which makes up most of the coral skeleton on which coral reefs are built.

During an in-depth study of freshly formed coral skeletons, the scientists discovered an unexpected form of calcium carbonate by analyzing numerous mineral spectra at the nanoscale: calcium carbonate hemihydrate. This form of calcium carbonate, known in laboratory synthesis experiments as the precursor of aragonite, has never been observed in nature. This discovery is the result of the work of Professor Pupa Gilbert of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in collaboration with numerous researchers, including Dr. Sylvie Tambutté, Eric Tambutté and Alexander Venn of the CSM.

This discovery reveals the complexity and diversity of the processes by which minerals are formed by living organisms and challenges our current knowledge. It also opens new avenues for research into the use of coral skeletons as climate archives, allowing a better understanding of past climate fluctuations by analyzing the isotopic data they contain.

The results of this study have just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

Publication :
Schmidt C. A., Tambutté E., Venn A. A., Zou Z., Castillo Alvarez C., Devriendt L. S., Bechtel H. A., Stifler C. A., Anglemyer S., Breit C. P., Foust C. L., Hopanchuk A., Klaus C. N., Kohler I. J., LeCloux I. M., Mezera J., Patton M. R., Purisch A., Quach V., Sengkhammee J. S., Sristy T., Vattem S., Walch E. J., Albéric M., Politi Y., Fratzl P., Tambutté S., Gilbert P. U. P. A.. Myriad Mapping of nanoscale minerals reveals calcium carbonate hemihydrate in forming nacre and coral biominerals. Nature Communications (2024) 15:1812. 


For further information, please contact :
Dr Sylvie Tambutté
Dr Eric Tambutté
Dr Alexander Venn