X-rays and spectroscopy to study microalgae: new insights into biominerals

Funded by MIUR funds for ECORD-IODP - Italy 2018 and realised thanks to a close collaboration between OGS, the University of Pavia, Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technologies of Barcelona, the research focuses on the outer shells of calcium carbonate of coccolithophores, microalgae capable of permanently fixing atmospheric CO2. They are studied with three different instruments at Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste (Beamline TwinMic, SISSI-Bio-Chem and XRF) that use X-rays in fluorescence and infrared spectroscopy.

Knowing the correct localisation of silicon is a crucial step towards deepening the role that certain trace elements play in biomineralisation and also provides useful information for more application-oriented areas such as the reproduction of synthetic crystals based on biomimicry or technological applications.