Spatial patterns of carbonate biomineralization in biofilms

Xiaobao Li, David L. Chopp, William A. Russin, Paul T. Brannon, Matthew R. Parsek, Aaron I. Packman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Microbially catalyzed precipitation of carbonate minerals is an important process in diverse biological, geological, and engineered systems. However, the processes that regulate carbonate biomineralization and their impacts on biofilms are largely unexplored, mainly because of the inability of current methods to directly observe biomineralization within biofilms. Here, we present a method for in situ, real-time imaging of biomineralization in biofilms and use it to show that Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms produce morphologically distinct carbonate deposits that substantially modify biofilm structures. The patterns of carbonate biomineralization produced in situ were substantially different from those caused by accumulation of particles produced by abiotic precipitation. Contrary to the common expectation that mineral precipitation should occur at the biofilm surface, we found that biomineralization started at the base of the biofilm. The carbonate deposits grew over time, detaching biofilm-resident cells and deforming the biofilm morphology. These findings indicate that biomineralization is a general regulator of biofilm architecture and properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7403-7410
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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