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The role of bacterially mediated precipitation in the permineralization of bone

Joseph C. Daniel and Karen Chin
The role of bacterially mediated precipitation in the permineralization of bone
Palaios (August 2010) 25 (8): 507-516


Bone fossilization is generally thought to be predominantly slow and geochemically controlled, whereas soft-tissue preservation is rapid and microbially enhanced. Microbial destruction of bone has been well researched, but potential preservational influences of microbes on bone are relatively unstudied. Building on previous work, this study examined evidence for microbially induced mineralization of bone buried in a simulated terrestrial setting using an actualistic, experimental approach designed to allow both biotic and abiotic precipitation to occur. Four trials were conducted in 2002 by burying bleached fresh bone cubes in river sand through which calcium carbonate saturated water was percolated. A "natural" trial used unmodified river sediment with natural bacterial populations. Two trials were run with bleach or sodium azide to reduce or eliminate bacterial populations. A fourth trial used washed, bleached sediment with reintroduced bacteria. After one week, the natural trial showed signs of mineral precipitation that cemented sand grains to the bone cubes. Bones from both the natural and washed trials were completely covered by adherent sediment after six weeks. After twelve weeks, cancellous bone in the nonsterile trials was permineralized while antiseptic trials and compact bone showed no indications of permineralization. Nonsterile trials also exhibited partially calcified fungal hyphae and possible lithified bacteria. This study provides additional experimental evidence that microbes are important agents of fossilization for bone as well as soft tissue. It also supports the inference that microbially induced mineral precipitation can play a significant role in bone fossilization by enhancing bone survival through early permineralization until apatite recrystallization occurs.

ISSN: 0883-1351
Serial Title: Palaios
Serial Volume: 25
Serial Issue: 8
Title: The role of bacterially mediated precipitation in the permineralization of bone
Affiliation: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, Little Rock, AR, United States
Pages: 507-516
Published: 201008
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 104
Accession Number: 2010-077571
Categories: Vertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
Secondary Affiliation: University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 201041
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