ERC Calcyan

PI: Karim Benzerara

(January 2013-February 2018)


The core of this project is to provide a detailed picture of the new intracellular calcification process. This will be achieved by studying laboratory cultures of cyanobacteria, field samples of modern calcifying biofilms and ancient microbialites. Diverse tools from molecular biology and mineralogy will be used including confocal laser scanning microscopy, cryo-transmission electron microscopy and synchrotron-based x-ray spectromicroscopy. Altogether these techniques allow probing cell intracellular chemistry or precise speciation-sensitive chemical imaging of both minerals and organic molecules as well as the crystallographic study of mineral products at the nanometer-scale. This will help unveil the molecular and mineralogical mechanisms involved in cyanobacterial intracellular calcification, assess the phylogenetical diversity of these cyanobacteria and the preservability of their traces in ancient rocks.


Scanning electron microscopy image of an intracellularly calcifying cyanobacterial cell deposited on a filter with 200-nm wide pores. Ca-, Mg-, Sr- and Ba-carbonate inclusions appear as bright spheres.

© Karim Benzerara & Stefan Borensztajn



Cécile Duflot - 16/11/17