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Institut de minéralogie, de physique des matériaux et de cosmochimie

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De Wever, P, and K Benzerara. Quand la Vie Fabrique les Roches. Les Ulis: EDP Sciences, 2016. https://public.ebookcentral.proquest.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=5057959.


The living world is often opposed to the mineral world. This distinction is much more delicate, as soon as one moves away from what appears at first sight on our temporal and spatial scale. Indeed, the mineral world influences the living world, it is almost obvious. What is less immediate is to consider that many rocks are made by life. This last aspect is the object of this small book that we wanted to make accessible to a large public.

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 Boulard, Eglantine, François Guyot, and Guillaume Fiquet. “High‐Pressure Transformations and Stability of Ferromagnesite in the Earth’s Mantle.” In Geophysical Monograph Series, edited by Craig E. Manning, Jung‐Fu Lin, and Wendy L. Mao, 105–113. 1st ed. Wiley, 2020.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781119508229.ch11.


Ferromagnesite (Mg,Fe)CO3 plays a key role in the transport and storage of carbon in the deep Earth. Experimental and theoretical studies demonstrated its high stability at high pressure and temperature against melting or decomposition. Several pressure‐induced transformations of ferromagnesite have been reported at conditions corresponding to depths greater than ~1030 km in the Earth's lower mantle. Although there is still no consensus on their exact crystallographic structures, evidence is strong for a change in carbon environment from the low‐pressure planar CO3 2‐ ion into carbon atoms tetrahedrally coordinated by four oxygens. High‐pressure iron‐bearing phases concentrate a large amount of Fe3+ as a result of intra‐crystalline self‐redox reactions. These crystallographic particularities may have significant implications on carbon reservoirs and fluxes in the deep Earth.


Benzerara, Karim, Sylvain Bernard, and Jennyfer Miot. “Mineralogical Identification of Traces of Life.” In Biosignatures for Astrobiology, edited by Barbara Cavalazzi and Frances Westall, 123–144. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2019. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-319-96175-0_6.


Many organisms impact mineral nucleation and growth. This results in the formation of biominerals with chemical, structural and textural properties providing clues to their biogenicity. However, ageing modifies these properties to some extent. Moreover, some abiotic processes form minerals with similar properties. Therefore, decoding traces of life in minerals requires caution, and one prerequisite is a reliable estimation of the geochemical conditions under which a biomineral formed. Here we discuss several examples of biominerals which illustrate these different ideas.


"La plus grande histoire jamais contée - La plus grande histoire jamais contée - Des origines de l'univers à la vie sur Terre" - Belin

ISBN : 978-2-410-01208-8
Date de parution : 18/10/2017
Avec la participation de Jennyfer Miot

A unique journey into the history of the Universe, the Earth and life

Here is the greatest story ever told...
It begins 13.7 billion years ago, at the first moments of the Universe, such as current physics and cosmology can reconstitute them...
It makes us discover the birth of the first stars, the first galaxies, the first planets...
It takes us to explore the primitive Earth, to witness the appearance of water, the atmosphere, the continents...
It invites us to the birth of the first forms of life, to follow its diversification and its complexification, from the very first organisms to the advent of the Homo genus...
Finally, it takes us into the future, that of our biodiversity, our species, our planet, and the universe itself.
Cosmology, astrophysics, planetology, chemistry, geology, biology, paleontology... All the disciplines of knowledge are brought together in this beautiful, ambitious and original book, magnificently illustrated, to restore this fascinating history - ours - in a way that is accessible to all, thanks to synthetic texts written by recognized specialists in each field.


Miot, Jennyfer, and Marjorie Etique. “Formation and Transformation of Iron‐Bearing Minerals by Iron(II)‐Oxidizing and Iron(III)‐Reducing Bacteria.” In Iron Oxides, edited by Damien Faivre, 53–98. 1st ed. Wiley, 2016.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9783527691395.ch4.


Iron(II)‐oxidizing bacteria (IOB) and iron(III)‐reducing bacteria (IRB) encompass a wide diversity of species and metabolisms and have colonized various environments from the Precambrian. They display a set of adaptations to miscellaneous geochemical conditions, in particular from anoxic to oxic environments. One important consequence of IOB and IRB activities is the precipitation of Fe‐bearing minerals. In the present chapter, we provide an overview of the Fe mineralogical diversity produced by these microorganisms in light of their specific metabolisms and physiological adaptations. As they may provide valuable biosignatures for the reconstruction of Earth–life coevolution, we inspect the specific properties of these Fe biominerals that may help discriminate them from abiotic counterparts. Some potential applications provided by these metabolisms are also reviewed.


Couradeau, Estelle, Karim Benzerara, David Moreira, and Purificación López-García. “Protocols for the Study of Microbe–Mineral Interactions in Modern Microbialites.” In Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology Protocols, edited by Terry J. McGenity, Kenneth N. Timmis, and Balbina Nogales, 319–341. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2015.  http://link.springer.com/10.1007/8623_2015_156.


Microbialites are organo-sedimentary structures formed by the direct or indirect action of microorganisms. Fossil stromatolites (laminated microbialites) constitute the oldest reliable traces of life, a fact that generates considerable interest in how these structures are formed and what biogenic traces can be preserved. Although found extensively in the fossil record, these structures are restricted today to a few marine and freshwater settings. Microbialites have a dual nature, where mineral and microbial roles are highly imbricated. This attribute poses a serious challenge for study from both a biological and mineralogical point of view. Here we detail protocols for sampling design, collection, fixation, and storage, propose a flowchart to carry out molecular surveys of microbialite microbial communities, and review a variety of correlative microscopies (light, confocal laser scanning, and electron and X-ray microscopies) to analyze the mineralogy and spatial distribution of microbialite components. These protocols are accompanied by potential solutions to problems related to the complexity of these systems.


Cosmidis, Julie, and Karim Benzerara. “Soft X-Ray Scanning Transmission Spectromicroscopy.” In Biomineralization Sourcebook, edited by Elaine DiMasi and Laurie B. Gower, 115–134. 0 ed. CRC Press, 2014.



This chapter reviews former studies using soft x-ray scanning transmission x-ray microscopy (STXM) in the field of biomineralization with the scope of presenting the basic principles, advantages, and limits of this technique and mentioning some future developments that are expected. It shows how a combination of focused ion beam, STXM, and Transmission electron microscopy was used to characterize putative microfossils in a Paleocene phosphorite from Morocco at the nanometer scale. The importance of biominerals is not restricted to Earth sciences. Scanning can be performed line by line or for slower scans point by point. Spectroscopy and spectromicroscopy beam damage induced by STXM analyses can be detected as a mass loss and also a change in the element speciation. Hyperspectral data generated by STXM contain a wealth of information that may need specific statistical procedures to be analyzed. Phosphorites are large marine sedimentary formations containing high amounts of phosphate minerals.


Benzerara, Karim, and Jennyfer Miot. “Biomineralization Mechanisms.” In Origins and Evolution of Life, edited by Muriel Gargaud, Purificacion Lopez-Garcia, and Herve Martin, 450–468. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. https://www.cambridge.org/core/product/identifier/CBO9780511933875A043/type/book_part.


Biomineralization is the process by which organisms form minerals; this is a widespread phenomenon and more than 60 minerals of biological origin have been identified up to now (e.g. Lowenstam, 1981; Baeuerlein, 2000; Weiner and Dove, 2003). Particular attention has been paid so far to eukaryotic biominerals, including the siliceous frustules of diatoms (e.g. Poulsen et al., 2003; Sumper and Brunner, 2008), the calcitic tests of foraminifers (e.g. Erez, 2003) and the aragonitic skeleton of modern scleractinian corals (e.g. Cuif and Dauphin, 2005; Meibom et al., 2008; Stolarski, 2003). However, prokaryotes can form minerals as well (Figure 27.1; Boquet et al., 1973; Krumbein, 1979). For instance, stromatolites are carbonate deposits that are usually interpreted as the result of bacterial biomineralization. Interestingly too, some bacteria, called ‘magnetotactic’, can produce intracellular magnetite crystals seemingly aimed at directing their displacements using the local magnetic field (Blakemore, 1982). While eukaryotes obviously synthesize minerals exhibiting very specific structures (although ascertaining quantitatively why it is obvious might be an issue), the biogenicity of prokaryotic biominerals is more difficult to infer. The morphology, the structure (e.g. crystallinity, presence/absence of defects) and the chemistry (including the isotopic composition) of these prokaryote biominerals have, however, frequently been proposed as potential biosignatures (e.g. Konhauser, 1998; Little et al., 2004). Such biosignatures have been used to infer the presence of traces of life not only in ancient terrestrial rocks but also in extraterrestrial rocks such as the Martian meteorite ALH 84001 (McKay et al., 1996).




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