The 2014 Biomineralization GRC is the 50th anniversary of this longstanding, highly rated GRC conference indicating a high level of excellence and enthusiasm over many years for this event. The biomineralization field is broad, with over 60 identified biominerals cutting across most phyla. This premier conference attracts the best and brightest scientists investigating biological regulation of mineralization in many diverse organisms. Indeed, hardening strategies invoking mineralization have many functions depending on the organism producing the biomineral, which for vertebrates includes i) skeletal support, locomotion, protection and serving as an ion reservoir in bones, ii) mastication of food by teeth, and iii) providing for sensation of balance and linear acceleration in human inner ear otoconia. In nonvertebrates, biomineralization functions to i) align bacteria within a magnetic field, ii) create bouyancy elements for phytoplankton in ocean currents, iii) provide mineral ion storage depots and protection in plants, iv) protect and provide optical functions in marine organisms, and v) protect embryos from bacterial invasion and dessication in eggshells. Many fundamental principles guiding biomineralization apply to all these organismal structures, and much can be learned from their collective investigation, which is one of the unique features of this meeting. New knowledge of the molecular determinants guiding biomineralization processes also leads to new bioinspired thinking for the rational engineering of functional materials based largely on hardening design strategies for nanomineral- containing organized structures, thin films and bulk materials. This GRC/GRS will explore the basic principles by which organisms synthesize, control and make use of minerals, as well as the potential applications of these, particularly as they relate to the creation of novel, biologically regulated mineralized materials. Sessions planned for this meeting are: Biomineral nucleation and growth, Intracellular biomineralization, Biominerals in marine invertebrates, Regulation of biomineralization in marine invertebrates, Protein/peptide regulation of biomineralization, Computational simulations of biomineralization, Transgenic mouse models for normal and pathologic biomineralization, and Mineralized material properties and bioinspired materials. The Keynote Session(Co-evolution of the geo- and biospheres) will have Robert Hazen as keynote speaker from the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Geophysical Laboratory giving a talk entitled "How minerals and life co- evolve." The inclusion of a trainee/early-stage investigator-based GRS immediately proceeding the GRC assures scientific and professional development for the next generation of researchers in the biomineralization field. The GRS participants all continue as GRC participants, thus providing essentially a full week of scientific exchange for the trainees/early-stage investigators.
Participants at this longstanding (50th anniversary), highly rated biomineralization conference - which includes early-stage students and scientists - present their research and discuss fundamental mechanisms underlying how bones and teeth (and other organismal structures) harden with mineral to provide for their function.