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Defining organominerals: Comment on ‘Defining biominerals and organominerals: Direct and indirect indicators of life' by Perry et al.

Abstract : The paper by Perry et al. (2007, Defining biominerals and organominerals: Direct and indirect indicators of life, Sedimentary Geology, 201, 157-179) proposes to introduce “the new term ‘organomineral'” to describe mineral products whose formation is induced by by-products of biological activity, dead and decaying organisms, or nonbiological organic compounds, to be distinguished from the biomineral components of living organisms. The substantive ‘organomineral', however, is not new: it was first introduced in 1993, with basically the same definition and distinction from biominerals, at the 7th International Symposium on Biomineralization (Défarge and Trichet, 1995, From biominerals to ‘organominerals': The example of the modern lacustrine calcareous stromatolites from Polynesian atolls, Bulletin de l'Institut Océanographique de Monaco, n° spéc. 14, vol. 2, pp. 265-271). Thereafter, more than twenty-five papers by various authors have been devoted to organominerals and organomineral formation (‘organomineralization') processes. Only two of these papers are cited by Perry et al., and without any reference to the definitions, or even the terms ‘organomineral' or ‘organomineralization', which they included. Moreover, Perry et al. tend to enlarge the original concept of organomineral to encompass all minerals containing organic matter, whether these organic compounds are active or passive in the mineralization, which introduces ambiguities detrimental to a fine understanding of present and past geobiological processes. Finally, Perry et al. propose to consider organominerals as indirect biosignatures that could be used in the search for evidence of life in the geological record and extraterrestrial bodies. This latter proposition also is problematical, in that organominerals may be formed in association with prebiotic or abiotic organic matter.
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Christian Défarge, Pascale Gautret, Joachim Reitner, Jean Trichet. Defining organominerals: Comment on ‘Defining biominerals and organominerals: Direct and indirect indicators of life' by Perry et al.. Sedimentary Geology, Elsevier, 2009, 213 (3-4), pp.152-155. ⟨10.1016/j.sedgeo.2008.04.002⟩. ⟨insu-00271731⟩

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