Mineralization (biology)

For other uses, see Mineralization (disambiguation).
IUPAC Definition

Process through which an organic substance becomes impregnated by or turned
into inorganic substances.

Note 1: A particular case is the process by which living organisms produce and
structure minerals often to harden or stiffen existing tissues. (See biomineralization.)

Note 2: In the case of polymer biodegradation, this term is used to reflect conversion
to CO2 and H2O and other inorganics. CH4 can be considered as part of the mineralization
process because it comes up in parallel to the minerals in anaerobic composting, also
called methanization.[1]


In biology, mineralization refers to a process where an inorganic substance precipitates in an organic matrix. This may be due to normal biological processes that take place during the life of an organism such as the formation of bones, egg shells, teeth, coral, and other exoskeletons. This term may also refer to abnormal processes that result in kidney and gall stones.

Types of Mineralization

Mineralization can be subdivided into different categories depending on the following: the organisms or processes that create chemical conditions necessary for mineral formation, the origin of the substrate at the site of mineral precipitation, and the degree of control that the substrate has on crystal morphology, composition, and growth.[3] These subcategories include: biomineralization, organomineralization, and inorganic mineralization, which can be subdivided further. However, usage of these terms vary widely in scientific literature because there are no standardized definitions.The following definitions are based largely on a paper written by Dupraz et al. (2009), which provided a framework for differentiating these terms.


Biomineralization, also known as biologically-controlled mineralization, occurs when crystal morphology, growth, composition, and location is completely controlled by the cellular processes of a specific organism. Examples include the shells of invertebrates, such as Molluscs and Brachiopods. Additionally, mineralization of collagen provides the crucial compressive strength for the bones, cartilage, and teeth of vertebrates.[4] See also biomineralization.


This type of mineralization includes both biologically-induced mineralization and biologically-influenced mineralization.

Inorganic Mineralization

Inorganic mineralization is a completely abiotic process. Chemical conditions necessary for mineral formation develop via environmental processes, such as evaporation or degassing. Furthermore, the substrate for mineral deposition is abiotic (i.e. contains no organic compounds) and there is no control on crystal morphology or composition. Examples of this type of mineralization include cave formations, such as stalagmites and stalactites.

Biological mineralization can also take place as a result of fossilization. See also calcification.

Bone mineralization occurs in human body by cells called osteoblasts..


  1. "Europeen Committee for Standarization". Plastics – Guide for Vocabulary in the Field of Degradable and Biodegradable Polymers and Plastic Items. 2006. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. "Terminology for biorelated polymers and applications (IUPAC Recommendations 2012)" (PDF). Pure and Applied Chemistry. 84 (2): 377–410. 2012. doi:10.1351/PAC-REC-10-12-04.
  3. Dupraz, Christophe; Reid, R. Pamela; Braissant, Olivier; Decho, Alan W.; Norman, R. Sean; Visscher, Pieter T. (2009-10-01). "Processes of carbonate precipitation in modern microbial mats". Earth-Science Reviews. Microbial Mats in Earth's Fossil Record of Life: Geobiology. 96 (3): 141–162. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2008.10.005.
  4. Sherman, Vincent R. (2015). "The materials science of collagen". Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. 52: 22–50. doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2015.05.023.
  5. Vermeij, Geerat J. (2013-09-27). "The oyster enigma variations: a hypothesis of microbial calcification". Paleobiology. 40 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1666/13002. ISSN 0094-8373.

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