Principles of Biofouling Protection in Marine Sponges: A Model for the Design of Novel Biomimetic and Bio-inspired Coatings in the Marine Environment?

W.E.G. Müller, X. Wang, P. Proksch, C.C. Perry, R. Osinga, J. Gardères, H.C. Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The process of biofouling of marine structures and substrates, such as platforms or ship hulls, proceeds in multiple steps. Soon after the formation of an initial conditioning film, formed via the adsorption of organic particles to natural or manmade substrates, a population of different bacterial taxa associates under the formation of a biofilm. These microorganisms communicate through a complex quorum sensing network. Macro-foulers, e.g., barnacles, then settle and form a fouling layer on the marine surfaces, a process that globally has severe impacts both on the economy and on the environment. Since the ban of tributyltin, an efficient replacement of this antifouling compound by next-generation antifouling coatings that are environmentally more acceptable and also showing longer half-lives has not yet been developed. The sponges, as sessile filter-feeder animals, have evolved antifouling strategies to protect themselves against micro- and subsequent macrobiofouling processes. Experimental data are summarized and suggest that coating of the sponge surface with bio-silica contributes to the inhibition of the formation of a conditioning film. A direct adsorption of the surfaces by microorganisms can be impaired through poisoning the organisms with direct-acting secondary metabolites or toxic peptides. In addition, first, compounds from sponges have been identified that interfere with the anti-quorum sensing network. Sponge secondary metabolites acting selectively on diatom colonization have not yet been identified. Finally, it is outlined that direct-acting secondary metabolites inhibiting the growth of macro-fouling animals and those that poison the multidrug resistance pump are available. It is concluded that rational screening programs for inhibitors of the complex and dynamic problem of biofilm production, based on multidisciplinary studies and using sponges as a model, are required in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-398
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • northern adriatic sea
  • multixenobiotic resistance mechanism
  • demosponge suberites-domuncula
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitors
  • mediated drug-resistance
  • p-glycoprotein gene
  • breast-cancer cells
  • vibrio-harveyi
  • antifouling activity
  • aplysina-aerophoba


Dive into the research topics of 'Principles of Biofouling Protection in Marine Sponges: A Model for the Design of Novel Biomimetic and Bio-inspired Coatings in the Marine Environment?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this