Fungal biomineralization

Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)
    76 Downloads (Pure)


    Fungi are key organisms of the biosphere with major roles in organic-matter decomposition, element cycling, plant pathogenicity, and symbioses in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The vast majority exhibit a filamentous, branching growth form and are aerobic chemoorganotrophs that derive carbon and energy from organic substances, and are particularly associated with soil, the plant-root zone, and rock surfaces. It is now known that some fungi are lithotrophs, deriving energy from the oxidation of inorganic materials, whereas others are photoheterotrophs, deriving additional energy from light for organic matter utilization when oxygen is limited. This means that fungi are of much wider environmental significance than previously thought and explains their ubiquity in locations previously thought to be inimical to fungal existence, such as the deep subsurface and other anaerobic locations. In addition to such free-living species, fungi associated with photosynthetic partners are also of profound biosphere importance. For example, lichens, which are composed of a symbiotic association between a fungus and a phototrophic alga and/or cyanobacterium, are pioneer colonizers and bioweathering agents of rocks and minerals. Mycorrhizas are symbiotic, plant-root-associated fungi found to colonize the majority of plant genera, where they improve plant nutrition through solubilization of essential metals and phosphate from soil minerals. Biomineralization in the soil can also immobilize toxic metals in the vicinity of plant roots, thereby benefiting plant colonization and facilitating revegetation of contaminated habitats. Wherever fungi are found, transformation of metals and minerals is a key aspect of their activity, with biomineralization an important feature. Fungal biomineralization is an important facet of geomycology - namely the roles of fungi in geochemical and geophysical processes. This article seeks to highlight the concept of biomineralization as applied to fungi, the occurrence and significance of important fungal biominerals in natural and synthetic environments, and the applied potential of fungal biomineralization in nanobiotechnology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)R1557-R1563
    Number of pages7
    JournalCurrent biology : CB
    Issue number24
    Early online date20 Dec 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2021


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