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2006 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2005 – JUN 2006

Characterizing the Mineral Phases in Placozoans

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

A very primitive animal group, the Placozoans, contain a mineral phase within their structures. It is important to characterize this mineral to discern its function, e.g. waste product, defensive shell material. In order to do so, the mineral will be isolated from the placozoans and prepared for electron microscopy. I will conduct a series of electron microscopic studies including SEM with EDS and BSE, FEG-SEM with high resolution SE imaging, electron microprobe analysis and TEM characterization. SEM with EDS and BSE imaging can narrow down the type of mineral it is. In addition, we may be able to identify any zonation or chemical heterogeneities with x-ray mapping of specific element identified with the EDS spectra. In addition, our SEM has Electron BackScatter Diffraction (EBSD) capability which can help identify the mineral further. The electron microprobe can be employed to quantify the elements present within the mineral and any variations due to zoning or heterogeneities in the crystals. TEM techniques can ascertain the crystallinity of the mineral. A low degree of crystallinity is more consistent with the minerals being a waste product. From this information, we will be able to ascertain the function of the minerals and perhaps how the organisms build the mineral within themselves. The organisms must be cultured, isolated and spun in the centrifuge to have the minerals separated from them. This will be done by others in the Gaidos team. I am currently waiting for my first samples which I should receive by the beginning of the fall semester.

    Eric Gaidos Eric Gaidos
    Project Investigator
    Lysa Chizmadia

    Objective 3.4
    Origins of cellularity and protobiological systems

    Objective 4.2
    Foundations of complex life