Transmission electron microscopy characterization of macromolecular domain cavities and microstructure of single-crystal calcite tooth plates of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus

J. S. Robach*, S. R. Stock, A. Veis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

The calcite plates and prisms in Lytechinus variegatus teeth form a complex biocomposite and employ a myriad of strengthening and toughening strategies. These crystal elements have macromolecule-containing internal cavities that may act to prevent cleavage. Transmission electron microscopy employing a small objective aperture was used to quantify several characteristics of these cavities. Cavity diameters ranged from 10 to 225 nm, the mean cavity diameter was between 50 and 60 nm, and cavities comprised approximately 20% of the volume of the crystal. Some cavities exhibited faceting and trace analysis identified these planes as being predominately of {101̄4} type. Through focus series of micrographs show the cavities were homogeneously distributed throughout the foil. The electron beam decomposed a substance within cavities and this suggests that these cavities are filled with a hydrated organic phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Volume151
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2005

Keywords

  • Calcite
  • Cavities
  • Crystal growth
  • Lytechinus variegatus
  • Macromolecules
  • Sea urchin
  • Tooth
  • Transmission electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology

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