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Diatom Nanobiotechnology:


Genetic Engineering of Silica Biomineralization for Syntheses ofHierarchically Patterned Multifunctional Hybrid Materials


Professor Dr. Nils Kröger, Technische Universität Dresden; Biomimetic Materials, B CUBE and Department of Chemistry & Food Chemistry, Arnoldstrasse 18,01307 Dresden, ,

Prof. Dr. Cordt Zollfrank, Technische Universität München; Fachgebiet Biogene Polymere, Schulgasse 16,
94315 Straubing, ,


Left, Secondary electron micrographs of the silica cell walls from individual cells of nine diatom species. Right, schematic diagram showing the concept of the research program in this project. 


Diatoms are single-celled microorganisms with remarkable SiO2 (silica) forming capabilities. Diatom silica exhibits hierarchical patterns of nano- to mircoscale features, which endow the material with interesting properties that are difficult to reproduce synthetically. The project combines methods for the deposition of inorganic materials under mild reaction conditions with genetic manipulation of diatom silica biogenesis to synthesize hierarchically structured organic-inorganic hybrid materials with interesting optical, catalytic, and magnetic properties. This approach is based on generating transgenic diatom strains that expose tailored functional proteins in selected region of the silica scaffold. In case of mineral forming proteins this is expected to allow for the deposition of inorganic nanoparticles in defined regions of the silica scaffold. The incorporation of receptor/ligand proteins is aimed at enabling the site-specific attachment of appropriately modified magnetic nanoparticles from magnetotactic bacteria. Through self-assembly of magnetic and receptor/ligand modified diatom silica we aim to generate for the first time ordered 2D and 3D superstructures of this unique biological material.