Biofilms of bacteria, frequently in association with algae, protozoa and fungi, are found on all submerged structures in the marine environment. Although it is likely that for the majority of organisms a biofilmed surface is not a pre-requisite for settlement, in practice, colonization by spores and larvae of fouling organisms almost always takes place via a biofilmed surface. Therefore, the properties of the latter may be expected to influence colonization, positively or negatively. Biofilms are responsible for a range of surface-associated and diffusible signals, which may moderate the settling behaviour of cells, spores and larvae. However, there is no consensus view regarding either cause and effect or the mechanism(s) by which biofilms moderate settlement. Studies with mixed biofilms, especially field experiments, are difficult to interpret because of the conflicting signals produced by different members of the biofilm community as well as their spatial organisation. Molecular techniques highlight the deficiencies of culture methods in identifying biofilm bacteria; hence, the strains with the most impact on settlement of spores and larvae may not yet have been isolated and cultured. Furthermore, secondary products isolated from cultured organisms may not reflect the situation that pertains in nature. The evidence that bacterial quorum sensing signal molecules stimulate settlement of spores of the green macroalga, Ulva, is discussed in some detail. New molecular and analytical tools should provide the opportunity to improve our fundamental understanding of the interactions between fouling organisms and biofilms, which in turn may inform novel strategies to control biofouling.
|Number of pages||29|
|Journal||Progress in molecular and subcellular biology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2006|