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Mia Dahlström

Marine Biodfouling and the search för antifouling substances 

Heavy metal-based coatings, which have been widely used for antifouling purposes are facing worldwide bans and thus, it is an urgent research challenge to discover and develop new environmentally benign antifouling methods.

In Swedish waters, the barnacle Balanus improvisus is the major fouling organism. It has six naupliar stages before it hatches into the final larval stage, the cyprid larvae. The cyprid is lecithotrophic (non-feeding) and its sole mission is to find a substrate for settlement.

When encountering a substratum, the cyprid glues itself to the surface using a cement consisting of proteins. This cement is released from internal glands out onto the antennular discs and is used both for temporary adhesion, when the cyprid is exploring the surface, and in permanent attachment when settlement is to take place. The glands producing the cement are innervated and can thus be both stimulated and inhibited to release their contents by receptor-active substances such as various agonists and antagonists.

When examining the effect of different adrenoceptor-active substances on the settlement response of barnacle larvae, I found a group of substances, which were highly potent in inhibiting settlement of cyprid larvae of B. improvisus. These substances are imidazole and imidazoline-derivatives and are active in concentrations ranging from 250 pg ml-1 to 2.5 ng ml-1. They furthermore display a wide therapeutic window, where the lethal doses are obtained at 25 µg ml-1. These substances have since been the object of my research and they have been studied as to their physicochemical nature using a wide range of techniques such as Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA) and Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (Tof SIMS), as well as for their antifouling performance in the field and also, how they are delivered from a paint formulation by measuring the leakage rate using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

Financial support:
The R&D programme Marine Paint through the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA), The Carl Trygger Foundation, Tjärnö TCE, Wåhlströms Minnesfond, CF Lundströms Stiftelse, Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse

Areas of interest:
Marine biofouling and the reponses of barnacle larvae to chemical signals. Invertebrate physiology and chemical ecology.

Research area: Chemical Ecology


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