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Exploiting algal mineralization for nanotechnology: bringing coccoliths to the fore
- Skeffington, Alastair W, Scheffel, André
- Current opinion in biotechnology 2018 v.49 pp. 57-63
- Bacillariophyceae, adsorption, calcite, enzymes, genetic engineering, metal ions, microalgae, mineralization, nanotechnology, silica
- Complex mineral structures are produced by many microalgal species. Pioneering work on diatom silica has demonstrated the potential of such structures in nanotechnology. The calcified scales of coccolithophores (coccoliths) have received less attention, but the large diversity of architectures make coccoliths attractive as parts for nano-devices. Currently coccolith calcite can be modified by the incorporation of metal ions or adsorption of enzymes to the surface, but genetic modification of coccolithophores may permit the production of coccoliths with customized architectures and surface properties. Further work on the laboratory cultivation of diverse species, the physiochemical properties of coccoliths and on genetic tools for coccolithophores will be necessary to realize the full potential of coccoliths in nanotechnology.