Role of Protein in Fungal Biomineralization of Copper Carbonate Nanoparticles

Feixue Liu, Dinesh Singh Shah, Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Biomineralization processes are of key importance in the biogeochemical cycling of metals and other elements by microorganisms, and several studies have highlighted the potential applications of nanoparticle synthesis via biomineralization. The roles played by proteins in the transformation and biologically induced biomineralization of metals by microorganisms is not well understood, despite the interactions of protein and nanoparticles at mineral interfaces attracting much interest in various emerging fields for novel biomaterial synthesis. Here, we have elucidated the association and involvement of fungal proteins in the formation of biogenic copper carbonate nanoparticles (CuNPs) using a carbonate-enriched biomass-free ureolytic fungal culture supernatant. Proteomic analysis was conducted that identified the major proteins present in the culture supernatant. Of the proteins identified, triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) exhibited a strong affinity to the CuNPs, and the impact of purified TPI on CuNP formation was studied in detail. The combined use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) confirmed that TPI played an important role in controlling the morphology and structure of the nanomaterials. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was applied to examine conformational changes of the proteins to further clarity the interaction mechanisms with CuNPs during biomineralization. Such analyses revealed unfolding of proteins on the mineral surface and an increase in β sheets within the protein structure. These results extend understanding of how microbial systems can influence biomineral formation through protein secretion, the mechanisms involved in formation of complex protein/inorganic systems, and provide useful guidelines for the synthesis of inorganic-protein based nanomaterials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-368.e3
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent biology : CB
Issue number2
Early online date5 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021


  • nanoparticles
  • copper
  • protein
  • fungi
  • proteomics
  • biomineralization
  • geomycology
  • geomicrobiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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