Atomic structure and ultrastructure of the Murex troscheli shell

Saeed Younis, Yaron Kauffmann, Boaz Pokroy, Emil Zolotoyabko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The structure of the gastropod Murex troscheli shell was investigated by using high-resolution scanning and transmission electron microscopies and high-resolution synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction. Rietveld refinement of X-ray diffraction patterns revealed anisotropic distortions of the orthorhombic aragonite unit cell, reaching a maximum of about 0.2% (along the c-direction) with respect to geological aragonite. Lattice distortions are effectively relieved under mild annealing at temperatures between 150°C and 250°C. This relaxation correlated well with the loss of organic substance during annealing, measured by thermal gravimetric analysis. The shell ultrastructure consists of three orders of hierarchy, which is typical for crossed-lamellar layers. The third-order fiber-like lamellae, nearly 50×250nm2 in cross-section, are heavily twinned, producing specific contrast features in transmission electron microscopy micrographs. So, higher orders of hierarchy are, in fact, twins, which boundaries are free of organic matter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-545
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Biomineralization
  • Crossed-lamellar layer
  • Mollusk shells
  • Twinning

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology


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