Linking Two Apparently Distant Worlds: Crystals and Microorganisms

A special issue of Crystals (ISSN 2073-4352). This special issue belongs to the section "Biomolecular Crystals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2022)

Special Issue Editors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With this Special Issue, we intend to stimulate your curiosity and resourcefulness by combining two apparently distant worlds, crystals and microorganisms, which actually have many meeting points. Crystals are extremely varied materials and attract a lot of attention because of their exclusive properties. Inorganic crystals have been proven to encase extremophiles, questioning extraterrestrial life implications. Biological crystals are a special class of crystals produced by living organisms, including microbes. As an example, magnetotactic bacteria are typically known for the synthesis of different types of magnetic mineral nanocrystals, and several marine microorganisms produce biomolecules (e.g., exopolysaccharides, biosurfactants, antibiotics), often possessing a crystalline structure. These aspects are really challenging in combinations with life in extreme and peculiar environments. The demand for such types of molecules is increasing, but knowledge of crystal structures must be improved to understand their action and to design genetically engineered enzymes with enhanced activity. It has been evidenced that some crystal materials could be used as additives to stimulate biosurfactant production by bacteria, and this could be extended to other types of molecules. Moreover, recently, researchers have discovered a kind of interesting crystal made of living bacteria.

Thus, a lot of interesting cues derive from the study of such type of materials, for which we would like to combine all the physical/chemical aspects of crystals and the biological world. A comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art and recent advances in all the following aspects are envisaged: microbial crystal production; synthesis conditions; taxonomical groups involved; life inside crystals; biological crystal applications; and use of crystal materials to enhance biomolecule production. We expect to collect a set of contributions on the chemical structure of biological crystals, and research on bacterial 2D crystal structures, their occurrence, and formation.

Dr. Carmen Rizzo
Dr. Angelina Lo Giudice
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Biological crystals
  • Microorganisms
  • Bacteria
  • Biomolecules
  • Extremophiles
  • Crystal application

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 4304 KiB  
Article
Self-Healing of Cementitious Materials via Bacteria: A Theoretical Study
by Pavel Demo, Filip Přeučil, Zdeněk Prošek, Petra Tichá and Mária Domonkos
Crystals 2022, 12(7), 920; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst12070920 - 29 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1868
Abstract
Cracks on the surface of cementitious composites represent an entrance gate for harmful substances—particularly water—to devastate the bulk of material, which results in lower durability. Autogenous crack-sealing is a significantly limited mechanism due to a combination of the hydration process and calcite nucleation, [...] Read more.
Cracks on the surface of cementitious composites represent an entrance gate for harmful substances—particularly water—to devastate the bulk of material, which results in lower durability. Autogenous crack-sealing is a significantly limited mechanism due to a combination of the hydration process and calcite nucleation, and self-healing cementitious composites are a research area that require a great deal of scientific effort. In contrast to time-consuming experiments (e.g., only the preparation of an applicable bare concrete sample itself requires more than 28 days), appropriately selected mathematical models may assist in the deeper understanding of self-healing processes via bacteria. This paper presents theoretically oriented research dealing with the application of specific bacteria (B. pseudofirmus) capable of transforming available nutrients into calcite, allowing for the cracks on the surfaces of cementitious materials to be repaired. One of the principal objectives of this study is to analyze the sensitivity of the bacterial growth curves to the system parameters within the context of the logistic model in the Monod approach. Analytically calculated growth curves for various parameters (initial inoculation concentration, initial nutrition content, and metabolic activity of bacteria) are compared with experimental data. The proposed methodology may also be applied to analyze the growth of microorganisms of nonbacterial origin (e.g., molds, yeasts). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Linking Two Apparently Distant Worlds: Crystals and Microorganisms)
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13 pages, 2666 KiB  
Article
Localization of Native Mms13 to the Magnetosome Chain of Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 Using Immunogold Electron Microscopy, Immunofluorescence Microscopy and Biochemical Analysis
by Zachery Oestreicher, Carmen Valverde-Tercedor, Eric Mumper, Lumarie Pérez-Guzmán, Nadia N. Casillas-Ituarte, Concepcion Jimenez-Lopez, Dennis A. Bazylinski, Steven K. Lower and Brian H. Lower
Crystals 2021, 11(8), 874; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst11080874 - 28 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2037
Abstract
Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) biomineralize intracellular magnetite (Fe3O4) crystals surrounded by a magnetosome membrane (MM). The MM contains membrane-specific proteins that control Fe3O4 mineralization in MTB. Previous studies have demonstrated that Mms13 is a critical protein within [...] Read more.
Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) biomineralize intracellular magnetite (Fe3O4) crystals surrounded by a magnetosome membrane (MM). The MM contains membrane-specific proteins that control Fe3O4 mineralization in MTB. Previous studies have demonstrated that Mms13 is a critical protein within the MM. Mms13 can be isolated from the MM fraction of Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 and a Mms13 homolog, MamC, has been shown to control the size and shape of magnetite nanocrystals synthesized in-vitro. The objective of this study was to use several independent methods to definitively determine the localization of native Mms13 in M. magneticum AMB-1. Using Mms13-immunogold labeling and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we found that Mms13 is localized to the magnetosome chain of M. magneticum AMB-1 cells. Mms13 was detected in direct contact with magnetite crystals or within the MM. Immunofluorescence detection of Mms13 in M. magneticum AMB-1 cells by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) showed Mms13 localization along the length of the magnetosome chain. Proteins contained within the MM were resolved by SDS-PAGE for Western blot analysis and LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry) protein sequencing. Using Anti-Mms13 antibody, a protein band with a molecular mass of ~14 kDa was detected in the MM fraction only. This polypeptide was digested with trypsin, sequenced by LC-MS/MS and identified as magnetosome protein Mms13. Peptides corresponding to the protein’s putative MM domain and catalytic domain were both identified by LC-MS/MS. Our results (Immunogold TEM, Immunofluorescence CLSM, Western blot, LC-MS/MS), combined with results from previous studies, demonstrate that Mms13 and homolog proteins MamC and Mam12, are localized to the magnetosome chain in MTB belonging to the class Alphaproteobacteria. Because of their shared localization in the MM and highly conserved amino acid sequences, it is likely that MamC, Mam12, and Mms13 share similar roles in the biomineralization of Fe3O4 nanocrystals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Linking Two Apparently Distant Worlds: Crystals and Microorganisms)
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