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Concept: Biofouling


Artificial reefs created by deliberately sinking ships off the coast of the Florida Keys island chain are providing new habitat for marine invertebrates. This newly developing fouling community includes the previously reported invasive orange tube coral Tubastraea coccinea and the non-native giant foam oyster Hyotissa hyotis. New SCUBA-based surveys involving five shipwrecks spanning the upper, middle, and lower Florida Keys, show T. coccinea now also established in the lower Keys and H. hyotis likewise extending to new sites. Two additional mollusks found on the artificial reefs, the amathinid gastropod Cyclothyca pacei and gryphaeid oyster Hyotissa mcgintyi, the latter also common in the natural reef areas, are discussed as potentially non-native. A new species of sessile, suspension-feeding, worm-snail, Thylacodes vandyensis Bieler, Rawlings & Collins n. sp. (Vermetidae), is described from the wreck of the USNS Vandenberg off Key West and discussed as potentially invasive. This new species is compared morphologically and by DNA barcode markers to other known members of the genus, and may be a recent arrival from the Pacific Ocean. Thylacodes vandyensis is polychromatic, with individuals varying in both overall head-foot coloration and mantle margin color pattern. Females brood stalked egg capsules attached to their shell within the confines of their mantle cavity, and give rise to crawl-away juveniles. Such direct-developing species have the demonstrated capacity for colonizing habitats isolated far from their native ranges and establishing rapidly growing founder populations. Vermetid gastropods are common components of the marine fouling community in warm temperate and tropical waters and, as such, have been tagged as potentially invasive or with a high potential to be invasive in the Pacific Ocean. As vermetids can influence coral growth/composition in the Pacific and have been reported serving as intermediate hosts for blood flukes of loggerhead turtles, such new arrivals in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are of concern. Growing evidence indicates that artificial reefs can act as permanent way-stations for arriving non-natives, providing nurseries within which populations may grow in an environment with reduced competition compared to native habitats. Consequently, artificial reefs can act as sentinels for the appearance of new species. Ongoing monitoring of the developing molluscan fauna on the artificial reefs of the Florida Keys is necessary to recognize new invasions and identify potential eradication targets, thereby assuring the health of the nearby natural barrier reef.

Concepts: Coral reef, Pacific Ocean, Florida, Mollusca, Gastropoda, Biofouling, Fouling, Florida Keys


The use of vibration is proposed as a means of controlling the settlement of marine fouling organisms. In this study, panels with embedded lead zirconate titanate, known as PZT, were placed in the field over 3 months. The panels were vibrated at different velocity levels at frequencies between 70 and 445 Hz. It was found that barnacles (Amphibalanus variegatus Darwin and Elminius sp.) were the only fouling organisms affected by the applied vibration, and these organisms settled in significantly lower numbers when the plates were excited at specific frequencies and amplitudes. Panels vibrating at relatively higher frequencies, greater than 260 Hz, exhibited reduced barnacle settlement, whilst lower frequencies in the 70-100 Hz range had little or no effect. The settlement of other fouling organisms such as tubeworms, bryozoans, ascidians and algae did not appear to be affected by the applied excitation. The experimental results showed that increasing the velocity amplitude of vibration was a contributing factor in inhibiting barnacle settlement.

Concepts: Wave, Frequency, Hertz, Wavelength, Vibration, Biofouling, Fouling, Barnacle


The decoration of porous membranes with a dense layer of nanoparticles imparts useful functionality and can enhance membrane separation and anti-fouling properties. However, manufacturing of nanoparticle-coated membranes requires multiple steps and tedious processing. Here, we introduce a facile single-step method in which bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsions are used to form nanoparticle-functionalized hollow fiber membranes. The resulting nanocomposite membranes prepared via solvent transfer-induced phase separation and photopolymerization have exceptionally high nanoparticle loadings (up to 50 wt% silica nanoparticles) and feature densely packed nanoparticles uniformly distributed over the entire membrane surfaces. These structurally well-defined, asymmetric membranes facilitate control over membrane flux and selectivity, enable the formation of stimuli responsive hydrogel nanocomposite membranes, and can be easily modified to introduce antifouling features. This approach forms a foundation for the formation of advanced nanocomposite membranes comprising diverse building blocks with potential applications in water treatment, industrial separations and as catalytic membrane reactors.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Nanomaterials, Sol-gel, Colloid, Silicon, Separation, Membrane, Biofouling


Mussels are opportunistic macrofouling organisms that can attach to most immersed solid surfaces, leading to serious economic and ecological consequences for the maritime and aquaculture industries. We demonstrate that lubricant-infused coatings exhibit very low preferential mussel attachment and ultralow adhesive strengths under both controlled laboratory conditions and in marine field studies. Detailed investigations across multiple length scales-from the molecular-scale characterization of deposited adhesive proteins to nanoscale contact mechanics to macroscale live observations-suggest that lubricant infusion considerably reduces fouling by deceiving the mechanosensing ability of mussels, deterring secretion of adhesive threads, and decreasing the molecular work of adhesion. Our study demonstrates that lubricant infusion represents an effective strategy to mitigate marine biofouling and provides insights into the physical mechanisms underlying adhesion prevention.

Concepts: Cell, Demonstration, Materials science, Adhesion, Mussel, Biofouling, Fouling, Fouling community


Thoracian barnacles rely heavily upon their ability to adhere to surfaces and are environmentally and economically important as biofouling pests. Their adhesives have unique attributes that define them as targets for bio-inspired adhesive development. With the aid of multi-photon and broadband coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopies, we report that the larval adhesive of barnacle cyprids is a bi-phasic system containing lipids and phosphoproteins, working synergistically to maximize adhesion to diverse surfaces under hostile conditions. Lipids, secreted first, possibly displace water from the surface interface creating a conducive environment for introduction of phosphoproteins while simultaneously modulating the spreading of the protein phase and protecting the nascent adhesive plaque from bacterial biodegradation. The two distinct phases are contained within two different granules in the cyprid cement glands, implying far greater complexity than previously recognized. Knowledge of the lipidic contribution will hopefully inspire development of novel synthetic bioadhesives and environmentally benign antifouling coatings.

Concepts: Protein, Crustacean, Scattering, Raman spectroscopy, Raman scattering, Adhesive, Biofouling, Barnacle


Incorporating natural product antifoulants (NPAs) into coatings with controlled surface topography is considered a promising way to suppress marine fouling. However, the rapid leakage of NPAs and the relatively complicated process of constructing well-patterned topography remain unresolved problems for practical applications. In this work, capsaicin bonded to CoFe2O4/gelatin magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) was mixed with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based block copolymer. When applied together by a simple spray coating method, these materials formed a film. The leakage of capsaicin was restrained by the chemical bonds with the CoFe2O4/gelatin nanospheres. The primary nanorough structure was constructed by the phase separation of the PDMS-based copolymer. The secondary nanorough structure was formed by the incorporation of capsaicin-loaded CoFe2O4/gelatin nanospheres, which were demonstrated to improve the orientation of the PDMS-based block copolymer chains. The combination of oriented nanotopography and non-leaking capsaicin endows the coating with enhanced, long-lasting antifouling ability.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Polymer, Copolymer, Bond, Coating, Surface, Biofouling, Fouling


Solid microscale porous material systems have attracted more attention in recent years due to their various potential applications, such as energy source transportations, biomedical devices, wastewater treatments, phase separations, etc. However, such systems are still plagued with many issues including fouling, mechanical fragility, inability to self-heal, and low recyclability that restrict them for further industrial applications. Dynamic liquid-based microscale porous material systems, especially porous surfaces and membranes, provide a new opportunity for resolving these issues and possess many benefits, such as antifouling, slippery, transparent, recovery, self-healing, and recycling properties. This Concept is mainly concerned with how to obtain tunable microscale porous systems with dynamic liquid interfaces, and their applications from the surfaces to membranes. The authors hope this concept will attract interest of scientists in areas related to the rapid development and application of various liquid-based porous systems.

Concepts: Energy, Concept, Recycling, Heat exchanger, Biomedical engineering, Porous medium, Biofouling, Fouling


Marine biofouling on artificial surfaces such as ship hulls or fish farming nets causes enormous economic damage. The time for the developmental process of antifouling coatings can be shortened by reliable laboratory assays. For designing such test systems, it is important that toxic effects can be excluded, that multiple parameters can be addressed simultaneously and that mechanistic aspects can be included. In this study, a multi-step approach for testing antifouling coatings was established employing photoautotrophic biofilm formation of marine microorganisms in micro- and mesoscoms. Degree and pattern of biofilm formation was determined by quantification of chlorophyll fluorescence. For the microcosms, co-cultures of diatoms and a heterotrophic bacterium were exposed to fouling-release coatings. For the mesocosms, a novel device was developed that permits parallel quantification of a multitude of coatings under defined conditions with varying degrees of shear stress. Additionally, the antifouling coatings were tested for leaching of potential compounds and finally tested in sea trials. This multistep-approach revealed that the individual steps led to consistent results regarding antifouling activity of the coatings. Furthermore, the novel mesocosm system can be employed for advanced antifouling analysis including metagenomic approaches for determination of microbial diversity attaching to different coatings under changing shear forces.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Force, Shear stress, Toxicity, Microorganism, Biofouling, Fouling


A novel antifouling coating based on the polymerization of a polymerisable bicontinuous microemulsion (PBM) was developed and applied for commercially available membranes for textile wastewater treatment. PBM coating was produced by polymerizing, on a polyethersulfone (PES) membrane, a bicontinuous microemulsion, realized by finely tuning its properties in terms of chemical composition and polymerization temperature. In particular, the PBM was prepared by using, as the surfactant component, inexpensive and commercially available dodecyltrimethylammonium bromide (DTAB). The coating exhibited a more hydrophilic and a smoother surface in comparison to uncoated PES surface, making the produced PBM membranes more resistant and less prone to be affected by fouling. The anti-fouling potential of PBM membranes was assessed by using humic acid (HA) as a model foulant, evaluating the water permeability decrease as an indicator of the fouling propensity of the membranes. PBM membrane performances in terms of dye rejection, when applied for model textile wastewater treatment, were also evaluated and compared to PES commercial ones. The PBM membranes were finally successfully scaled-up (total membrane area 0.33 m2) and applied in a pilot membrane bioreactor (MBR) unit for the treatment of real textile wastewater.

Concepts: Emulsion, Wastewater, Humic acid, Septic tank, Membrane, Biofouling, Fouling, Fouling community


Wastewaters with high concentrations of organic pollutants pose a great challenge for membrane filtration due to their severe fouling propensity. In this study, a hydrogel forward osmosis (FO) membrane is explored for treating wastewaters of high concentration organic pollutants. This FO membrane has an ultrathin hydrogel selective layer, which is highly hydrophilic (water contact angle: as low as 18°) and smooth (surface roughness: <5 nm). Investigated with typical organic foulants (protein, alginate, humic acid, and oil) of high concentration (2000 ~ 20000 mg/L), this hydrogel FO membrane exhibits remarkably superior antifouling capability, with its water flux decline ratio lower than a quarter of commercial FO membrane's under identical experimental conditions. The foulants on hydrogel membrane surface can be easily removed by simple physical cleaning without any chemical usage. At the same time, this hydrogel FO membrane achieves ~2 times higher separation efficiency than commercial FO membrane in terms of specific water flux (JW/JS). The antifouling capability and separation efficiency of this FO membrane can be flexibly tailored during selective layer fabrication process. This study opens a new avenue for the treatment of high-strength organic wastewaters by developing a highly antifouling hydrogel-based FO membrane.

Concepts: Concentration, Chemistry, Soil, Analytical chemistry, Humus, Humic acid, Osmosis, Biofouling