Engineered Ureolytic Microorganisms Can Tailor the Morphology and Nanomechanical Properties of Microbial-Precipitated Calcium Carbonate: Article No. 14721

Jeffrey Cameron, Chelsea Heveran, Liya Liang, Aparna Nagarajan, Mija Hubler, Ryan Gill, Sherri Cook, Wil Srubar III

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus Citations

Abstract

We demonstrate for the first time that the morphology and nanomechanical properties of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) can be tailored by modulating the precipitation kinetics of ureolytic microorganisms through genetic engineering. Many engineering applications employ microorganisms to produce CaCO3. However, control over bacterial calcite morphology and material properties has not been demonstrated. We hypothesized that microorganisms genetically engineered for low urease activity would achieve larger calcite crystals with higher moduli. We compared precipitation kinetics, morphology, and nanomechanical properties for biogenic CaCO3 produced by two Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains that were engineered to display either high or low urease activity and the native producer Sporosarcina pasteurii. While all three microorganisms produced calcite, lower urease activity was associated with both slower initial calcium depletion rate and increased average calcite crystal size. Both calcite crystal size and nanoindentation moduli were also significantly higher for the low-urease activity E. coli compared with the high-urease activity E. coli. The relative resistance to inelastic deformation, measured via the ratio of nanoindentation hardness to modulus, was similar across microorganisms. These findings may enable design of novel advanced engineering materials where modulus is tailored to the application while resistance to irreversible deformation is not compromised.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-75264

Keywords

  • calcium carbonate
  • genetic engineering
  • morphology
  • nanomechanics

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Engineered Ureolytic Microorganisms Can Tailor the Morphology and Nanomechanical Properties of Microbial-Precipitated Calcium Carbonate: Article No. 14721'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this