Morphology and the chemical make-up of the inorganic components of black coralsMorphology and the chemical make-up of the inorganic components of black corals
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
AXES (Antwerp X-ray Analysis, Electrochemistry and Speciation)
Materials science and engineering: part C: biomimetic materials. - Lausanne
29(2009):3, p. 1029-1038
University of Antwerp
Black corals (Cnidaria, Antipatharia) from three different sources were investigated with the aim of detecting inorganic components and their morphology. In general, the skeleton of black corals was composed of the chitin fibrils admixed with peptides and the chitin presence was confirmed by the X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectrometry (FTIR) and microRaman Microscopy, the latter giving the opportunity of tracing single fibrils and their location. The composition and concentrations of the inorganic components of the black corals were measured, using a scanning electron microprobe and micro-Particle Induced X-ray Emission (µ-PIXE). The application of such instruments enabled the estimation of the constituent distributions in a microscale. The mapping option was the most useful technique of making analyses in these studies, just to reveal the composition of chamber-like cells. Analysis of the morphology and microstructure showed that there were three distinct regions within the coral: a core and the cells encircled with adjacent interface gluing strips. The majority of the elements analyzed were selectively distributed and segregated in a striking way in mentioned distinctive zones of the skeleton and it was detected for the first time. The core area was characterized by the relatively elevated concentrations of Ca. The measurements gave extremely clear images of the distribution of particular elements in the skeletal tissue, with I, Ca, K and Fe much more concentrated in the gluing zones, while C, N, Na and Mg present in the interiors of particular skeletal cells. The distribution of some elements (Mg, Fe) and some compounds (chitin) and functional groups (SS, CI) allows differentiating the biological and mechanical functions of particular fragments of the rods. The kinds of elements and their concentrations measured were essentially in compliance with rare data available in the literature. The Raman technique gave the additional qualitative information about the structure of gluing zone and the chitin fibrils and surrounding matrix inside the cell interior.