A Journal of Postdoctoral Research.
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A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Silica Grow Round
Sarah Ratcliffe and Paul Curnow
University of Bristol
School of Biochemistry, University of Bristol, School of Medical Sciences, University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD, United Kingdom

Diatoms are single-celled aquatic algae that are involved in approximately one-fifth of photosynthesis globally and fix as much carbon as all of Earth’s rainforests combined. One reason for this evolutionary success is that diatoms live within the confines of an intricate outer cell wall composed mainly of silica. Diatoms have been called ‘nature’s nanotechnologists’ because they arrange these cell walls into spectacular nano-sized patterns. How diatoms create this intricate ‘glass house’ is not well understood, but it seems clear that there is a central role for organic macromolecules such as sugars and proteins in regulating and coordinating this process.......


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