Journal article

The biology of biofouling diatoms and their role in the development of microbial slimes

Paul J Molino, Richard Wetherbee



Diatoms are a major component of microbial slimes that develop on man-made surfaces placed in the marine environment. Toxic antifouling paints, as well as environmentally friendly, fouling-release coatings, tend to be effective against most fouling organisms, yet fail badly to diatom slimes. Biofouling diatoms have been found to tenaciously adhere to and colonise even the most resistant of artificial surfaces. This review covers the basic biology of fouling marine diatoms, their mechanisms of adhesion and the nature of their adhesives, as well as documenting the various approaches that have been utilised to understand the formation and maintenance of diatom biofouling layers.

University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

The authors thank Mr Ewan Campbell for his valuable contributions to the manuscript, including unpublished data and illustrations (Figures 3 and 11). They also thank the Australian Research Council, International Paints and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (Mr John Lewis and Ms Lyn Fletcher) for financial assistance. Paul Molino thanks the David Hay Memorial Fund for financial assistance in the preparation of this article.