New insights into bacterial cell-wall structure and physico-chemistry: Implications for interactions with metal ions and minerals

V. R. Phoenix, A. A. Korenevsky, V. R F Matias, T. J. Beveridge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Prokaryotes are the Earth’s smallest life form and, yet, have the largest surface area: volume ratio of all cells (Beveridge, 1988, 1989a). They are also the most ancient form of life and have persisted on Earth for at least 3.6 × 109 years, even in some of the most extreme environments imaginable, such as the deep subsurface. Most of these early primitive (and today’s modern) natural environments possess reasonably high amounts of metal ions that are capable of precipitation under suitable pH or redox conditions. Deep-seated in such geochemical situations is the likelihood of suitable interfaces that lower the local free energy, so that interfacial metal precipitation is promoted. Bacteria, being minute and having highly reactive surfaces (interfaces), are exquisitely efficient environmental particles for metal-ion adsorption and mineral nucleation. Metal ions interact with available reactive groups (or ligands) on the bacterial surface and precipitates grow as environmental counter-ions interact with more and more metal at the site (Beveridge & Murray, 1976, 1980; Beveridge et al., 1982; Ferris & Beveridge, 1986; Fortin et al., 1998). Once formed, these precipitates are under the influence of natural geochemical and additional microbially mediated conditions (Lee & Beveridge, 2001) that instigate the development of fine-grain minerals, usually via dehydration, so that crystalline phases are eventually developed (Beveridge et al., 1983). These minerals commence as so-called ‘nano-mineral phases’ and grow with time to become larger and larger.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicro-Organisms and Earth Systems - Advances in Geomicrobiology: Published for the Society for General Microbiology
EditorsGeoff Gadd, Kirk Semple, Hilary Lappin-Scott
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780511754852
ISBN (Print)0521862221, 9780521862226
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSociety for General Microbiology Symposia
PublisherCambridge University Press


  • prokaryotes
  • metal precipitation
  • mineral nucleation
  • metal ions


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