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Microbial formation of a halloysite-like mineral

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Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has been used to demonstrate the biological formation of a hollow spherical halloysite-like mineral in freshwater systems. The interaction between clays and microbes was investigated in microbial films from laboratory cultures derived from natural sediments. Optical and electron microscopic observations of cultured microbes revealed that thin clay films covered areas of the bacterial cell wall. X-ray diffraction of the thin films after 2 y of ageing showed a 7.13 Å d spacing, consistent with a 7 Å halloysite-like phase [Al2Si2O5(OH)4·H2O]. Fourier transform infrared analysis of the thin film exhibited the characteristic adsorption bands for O–H (3651 cm−1), C–H and C–N (2925, 1454 and 1420 cm−1, respectively), suggesting that the phase was closely associated with adhesive organics. Observation by TEM of the thin films revealed that spherical, hollow, halloysite-like material formed on both coccus- and bacillus-type bacterial cells. Electron diffraction analysis of this material showed 2.9, 2.5, 2.2 and 1.5 Å d spacings. The present investigation strongly suggests that the thin film wall of the spherical halloysite-like material was associated with bacteria as a bio-organic product. This material, referred to hereafter as bio-halloysite, is further evidence for the microbially-mediated formation of clay minerals. The identity of the bacteria responsible for bio-halloysite formation is unknown, but is tentatively assigned to sulfate-reducing bacteria on the basis of morphology and the presence of reducing conditions in the microcosm at the end of the experiments.
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Keywords: BACTERIAL CELL WALL; ELECTRON MICROSCOPE; HALLOYSITE; HOLLOW SPHERICAL FORMS; MICROBIAL FORMATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2005

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  • The JOURNAL publishes articles of interest to the international community of clay scientists, including but not limited to areas in mineralogy, crystallography, geology, geochemistry, sedimentology, soil science, agronomy, physical chemistry, colloid chemistry, ceramics, petroleum engineering, foundry engineering, and soil mechanics. Clays and Clay Minerals exists to disseminate to its worldwide readership the most recent developments in all of these aspects of clay materials. Manuscripts are welcome from all countries.

    Clays and Clay Minerals is the official publication of The Clay Minerals Society.

    The Editor-in-Chief is Professor Joseph W. Stucki [email protected]

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