Adhesion and motility of fouling diatoms on a silicone elastomer

Ross Holland, TM Dugdale, Richard Wetherbee, AB Brennan, John Finlay, James Callow, Maureen Callow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

190 Citations (Scopus)


Recent demands for non-toxic antifouling technologies have led to increased interest in coatings based on silicone elastomers that 'release' macrofouling organisms when hydrodynamic conditions are sufficiently robust. However, these types of coatings accumulate diatom slimes, which are not released even from vessels operating at high speeds (> 30 knots). In this study, adhesion strength and motility of three common fouling diatoms (Amphora coffeaeformis var. perpusilla (Grunow) Cleve, Craspedostauros australis Cox and Navicula perminuta Grunow) were measured on a polydimethylsiloxane elastomer (PDMSE) and acid-washed glass. Adhesion of the three species was stronger to PDMSE than to glass but the adhesion strengths varied. The wall shear stress required to remove 50% of cells from PDMSE was 17 Pa for Craspedostauros, 24 Pa for Amphora and >> 53 Pa for Navicula; the corresponding values for glass were 3, 10 and 25 Pa. In contrast, the motility of the three species showed little or no correlation between the two surfaces. Craspedostauros moved equally well on glass and PDMSE, Amphora moved more on glass initially before movement ceased and Navicula moved more on PDMSE before movement ceased. The results show that fouling diatoms adhere more strongly to a hydrophobic PDMSE surface, and this feature may contribute to their successful colonization of low surface energy, foul-release coatings. The results also indicate that diatom motility is not related to adhesion strength, and motility does not appear to be a useful indicator of surface preference by diatoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • diatom
  • biofouling
  • fouling release
  • adhesion
  • PDMS
  • silicone elastomer


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