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Production of Calcite (Calcium Carbonate) Crystals by Soil Bacteria is a General Phenomenon


CERTAIN bacteria form crystals from the solutes in their aqueous environment, and some authors have associated this activity with the extensive deposits of CaCO3 in such places as the Grand Bahama, in spite of the belief that physicochemical effects, such as rapid changes in pH, salinity and temperature, are responsible1–4. Drew5 isolated a denitrifying bacterium able to form CaCO3 crystals in liquid media and named it “Bacterium calcis” (later named Pseudomonas calcis6). Greenfield7 obtained aragonite (another form of CaCO3) crystals in cultures of Pseudomonas in an artificial seawater medium containing Na2CO3 or (NH4)2CO3. Buck and Greenfield reported the same result with marine yeast, and claimed that calcium crystals resulted from the accumulation of calcium deposits on the surface of the cells8. McCallum and Guhathakurta9 observed calcium carbonate deposition by marine bacteria isolated from Bahama Island sediments, and when these were cultured in different media aragonite crystals formed. Shinano10 described many marine bacteria able to form crystals in liquid media. Ramos-Cormenzana11 has also reported crystal formation by soil bacteria in solid media. This, together with the knowledge that previous research concerned only marine bacteria in liquid media, stimulated us to investigate crystal formation by soil bacteria cultured on solid media.

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BOQUET, E., BORONAT, A. & RAMOS-CORMENZANA, A. Production of Calcite (Calcium Carbonate) Crystals by Soil Bacteria is a General Phenomenon. Nature 246, 527–529 (1973).

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