The physical and chemical microstructure of the Achatina fulica epiphragm

M. Struthers, G. Rosair, J. Buckman, C. Viney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Microstructural characterization of Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822 epiphragms and mucus secretions was performed to address two questions: what are the structure and composition of the reinforcing inorganic phase in the epiphragms, and what enables a durable epiphragm to form quickly in comparison to other biomineralized materials? Characterization was performed by a combination of light microscopy (relying on a variety of contrast modes), wet chemical tests, environmental scanning electron microscopy (including the use of energy dispersive X-ray analysis to obtain compositional data), and X-ray diffraction. The morphology of the inorganic phase promotes mechanical interlocking and presents a large surface for binding to the organic matrix. Strong binding occurs between the organic and inorganic phases. The inorganic phase adopts the calcite structure; its composition is Ca0.912 Mg0.088 CO3. Epiphragms can form quickly because pre-grown crystals of the inorganic reinforcing phase are co-deposited with the mucus matrix. Unlike other biomineralized material, the crystals are not solution-grown in situ on an organic template in the final product.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molluscan Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


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