Calcium phosphate mineralization is widely applied in crustacean mandibles Academic Article uri icon


  • Crustaceans, like most mineralized invertebrates, adopted calcium carbonate mineralization for bulk skeleton reinforcement. Here, we show that a major part of the crustacean class Malacostraca (which includes lobsters, crayfishes, prawns and shrimps) shifted toward the formation of calcium phosphate as the main mineral at specified locations of the mandibular teeth. In these structures, calcium phosphate is not merely co-precipitated with the bulk calcium carbonate but rather creates specialized structures in which a layer of calcium phosphate, frequently in the form of crystalline fluorapatite, is mounted over a calcareous “jaw”. From a functional perspective, the co-existence of carbonate and phosphate mineralization demonstrates a biomineralization system that provides a versatile route to control the physico-chemical properties of skeletal elements. This system enables the deposition of amorphous calcium carbonate, amorphous calcium phosphate, calcite and apatite at various skeletal locations, as well as combinations of these minerals, to form graded composites materials. This study demonstrates the widespread occurrence of the dual mineralization strategy in the Malacostraca, suggesting that in terms of evolution, this feature of phosphatic teeth did not evolve independently in the different groups but rather represents an early common trait.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016