Abstract: Scleractinian corals represent a testing ground for ideas regarding biologically vs. environmentally controlled calcification. The morphology of skeletal micro-structural units (arrangement of the skeletal fibres) and their biogeochemical composition have, for a long time, been interpreted from two opposite view points: (1) as a purely physico-chemical process involving simple supersaturation of a fluid close in composition to seawater, hypothesized to exist at the interface between the skeleton and the calicoblastic cell-layer, or (2) a complete physiological control of calcification by the organism by means of a presumed amorphous precursor phase and precisely utilized organic macromolecules that control mineralogy, crystal orientation etc. I will overview these concepts and present arguments that support the second view point. A biological understanding of micro-scale diversity of the skeleton and genetic background of biomineralizaion processes are the new frontier.
Biography: I am associate professor at the Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw, Poland) and head of Biogeology Department. My PhD was dealing with in-depth characterization of the skeleton of two deep-water, azooxanthellate families of scleractinian corals: Guyniidae and Flabellidae. My further studies include works on new model of scleractinian skeleton growth, echinoderm biomineralization, biogechemical characteristics of various types of biominerals, experimental studies on skeleton growth using stable isotopes labelling techniques, and nanocomposite biomaterials. I also work as the Editor of international paleontological journal Acta Palaeotologica Polonica, and coordinating author of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, part F (Scleractinia).