Avoiding and allowing apatite precipitation in oxygenic photolithotrophs

John A. Raven (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    The essential elements Ca and P, taken up and used metabolically as Ca 2+ and H 2PO 4 /HPO 4 2− respectively, could precipitate as one or more of the insoluble forms calcium phosphate (mainly apatite) if the free ion concentrations and pH are high enough. In the cytosol, chloroplast stroma, and mitochondrial matrix, the very low free Ca 2+ concentration avoids calcium phosphate precipitation, apart from occasionally in the mitochondrial matrix. The low free Ca 2+ concentration in these compartments is commonly thought of in terms of the role of Ca 2+ in signalling. However, it also helps avoids calcium phosphate precipitation, and this could be its earliest function in evolution. In vacuoles, cell walls, and xylem conduits, there can be relatively high concentrations of Ca 2+ and inorganic orthophosphate, but pH and/or other ligands for Ca 2+, suggests that calcium phosphate precipitates are rare. However, apatite is precipitated under metabolic control in shoot trichomes, and by evaporative water loss in hydathodes, in some terrestrial flowering plants. In aquatic macrophytes that deposit CaCO 3 on their cell walls or in their environment as a result of pH increase or removal of inhibitors of nucleation or crystal growth, phosphate is sometimes incorporated in the CaCO 3. Calcium phosphate precipitation also occurs in some stromatolites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1801-1812
    Number of pages12
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number5
    Early online date1 Mar 2023
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


    • apatite
    • calcium
    • cell wall
    • cytosol
    • matrix
    • phosphate
    • stroma
    • xylem

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Plant Science


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