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The function-optimized properties of biominerals arise from the hierarchical organization of primary building blocks. Alteration of properties in response to environmental stresses generally involves time-intensive processes of resorption and reprecipitation of mineral in the underlying organic scaffold. Here, we report that the load-bearing shells of the brachiopod Discinisca tenuis are an exception to this process. These shells can dynamically modulate their mechanical properties in response to a change in environment, switching from hard and stiff when dry to malleable when hydrated within minutes. Using ptychographic X-ray tomography, electron microscopy and spectroscopy, we describe their hierarchical structure and composition as a function of hydration to understand the structural motifs that generate this adaptability. Key is a complementary set of structural modifications, starting with the swelling of an …
Nature Publishing Group
Publication date: 
10 Sep 2021

Johannes Ihli, Anna S Schenk, Sabine Rosenfeldt, Klaus Wakonig, Mirko Holler, Giuseppe Falini, Luca Pasquini, Eugénia Delacou, Jim Buckman, Thomas S Glen, Thomas Kress, Esther HR Tsai, David G Reid, Melinda J Duer, Maggie Cusack, Fabio Nudelman

Biblio References: 
Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Pages: 1-12
Nature Communications