Many marine organisms produce complex biomineralised structures, such as teeth, shell, and skeletons, which commonly exist in the form of carbonates, phosphates, oxides, and silicates.
Marine biomineralisation is highly relevant to many commercial and government industries, including their use as indicators of environmental contamination (eg. heavy metals), growth and survival of wild versus cultured or invasive populations (eg. lobster, abalone), ecosystem sustainability (eg. coral reefs), commercial products (eg. pearls) and seafoods (eg. oysters, mussels), biomedical applications (eg. bone replacement), and biomimetics (eg. synthetic materials).
Climate change is predicted to affect biomineralisation processes in many economically and ecologically important marine organisms, with direct and indirect impacts on industry and the environment.
Our multi-disciplined research group focuses upon the biological, physical and chemical aspects of biomineral formation in a range of marine invertebrates. From this, we seek to understand how these processes may be affected by biotic and abiotic factors.
Using a range of cutting-edge imaging and characterisation techniques, we investigate cellular structure-function relationships, crystal formation and growth, structure and properties of organic scaffolds, elemental uptake pathways and distributions, and immunological properties of biomineralised tissues.
Current projects and areas of interest include: