Articles | Volume 20, issue 19
Research article
09 Oct 2023
Research article |  | 09 Oct 2023

Biogenic calcium carbonate as evidence for life

Sara Ronca, Francesco Mura, Marco Brandano, Angela Cirigliano, Francesca Benedetti, Alessandro Grottoli, Massimo Reverberi, Daniele Federico Maras, Rodolfo Negri, Ernesto Di Mauro, and Teresa Rinaldi

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Cited articles

Allwood, A. C., Walter, M. R., Kamber, B. S., Marshall, C. P., and Burch, I. W.: Stromatolite reef from the Early Archaean era of Australia, Nature, 441, 714–718,, 2006. 
Anbu, P., Kang, C.-H., Shin, Y.-J., and So, J.-S.: Formations of calcium carbonate minerals by bacteria and its multiple applications. SpringerPlus 5, 250,, 2016. 
Asta, M. P., Fernandez-Martinez, A., Alonso, J., Charlet, L., Findling, N., Magnin, V., Ruta, B., Sprung, M., and Westermeier, F.: Nanoscale Ion Dynamics Control on Amorphous Calcium Carbonate Crystallization: Precise Control of Calcite Crystal Sizes, J. Phys. Chem. C., 124, 25645–25656,, 2020. 
Banerjee, S. and Joshi, S. R.: Ultrastructural analysis of calcite crystal patterns formed by biofilm bacteria associated with cave speleothems, Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure, 2, 217–223, 2014. 
Banks, E. D., Taylor, N. M., Gulley, J., Lubbers, B. R., Giarrizzo, J. G., Bullen, H. A, Hoehler, T. M., and Barton, H. A.: Bacterial calcium carbonate precipitation in cave environments: a function of calcium homeostasis, Geomicrobiol. J., 27, 444–454,, 2010. 
Short summary
The history of Earth is a story of the co-evolution of minerals and microbes. We present the evidence that moonmilk precipitation is driven by microorganisms within the rocks and not only on the rock surfaces. Moreover, the moonmilk produced within the rocks contributes to rock formation. The calcite speleothem moonmilk is the only known carbonate speleothem on Earth with undoubted biogenic origin, thus representing a biosignature of life.
Final-revised paper