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Lastam, J.; Griesshaber, E.; Yin, X.; Rupp, U.; Sánchez-Almazo, I.; Heß, M.; Walther, P.; Checa, A.; Schmahl, W. W. (2023): The unique fibrilar to platy nano- and microstructure of twinned rotaliid foraminiferal shell calcite. Scientific Reports, 13 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Diversification of biocrystal arrangements, incorporation of biopolymers at many scale levels and hierarchical architectures are keys for biomaterial optimization. The planktonic rotaliid foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata displays in its shell a new kind of mesocrystal architecture. Shell formation starts with crystallization of a rhizopodial network, the primary organic sheet (POS). On one side of the POS, crystals consist of blocky domains of 1 μm. On the other side of the POS crystals have dendritic-fractal morphologies, interdigitate and reach sizes of tens of micrometers. The dendritic-fractal crystals are twinned. At the site of nucleation, twinned crystals consist of minute fibrils. With distance away from the nucleation-site, fibrils evolve to bundles of crystallographically well co-oriented nanofibrils and to, twinned, platy-blade-shaped crystals that seam outer shell surfaces. The morphological nanofibril axis is the crystallographic c-axis, both are perpendicular to shell vault. The nanofibrillar calcite is polysynthetically twinned according to the 60°/[100] (= m/{001}) twin law. We demonstrate for the twinned, fractal-dendritic, crystals formation at high supersaturation and growth through crystal competition. We show also that c-axis-alignment is already induced by biopolymers of the POS and is not simply a consequence of growth competition. We discuss determinants that lead to rotaliid calcite formation.

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