Marine Biotechnology

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 399–410 | Cite as

Marine Biofilms as Mediators of Colonization by Marine Macroorganisms: Implications for Antifouling and Aquaculture

  • P.-Y. QianEmail author
  • S. C. K. Lau
  • H.-U. Dahms
  • S. Dobretsov
  • T. Harder
Invited Review


In the marine environment, biofilms on submerged surfaces can promote or discourage the settlement of invertebrate larvae and macroalgal spores. The settlement-mediating effects of biofilms are believed to involve a variety of biofilm attributes including surface chemistry, micro-topography, and a wide range of microbial products from small-molecule metabolites to high-molecular weight extracellular polymers. The settled organisms in turn can modify microbial species composition of biofilms and thus change the biofilm properties and dynamics. A better understanding of biofilm dynamics and chemical signals released and/or stored by biofilms will facilitate the development of antifouling and mariculture technologies. This review provides a brief account of 1) existing knowledge of marine biofilms that are relevant to settlement mediation, 2) biotechnological application of biofilms with respect to developing non-toxic antifouling technologies and improving the operation of aquaculture facilities, and 3) challenges and future directions for advancing our understanding of settlement-mediating functions of biofilms and for applying this knowledge to real-life situations.


aquaculture biofouling colonization conservation management marine biofilms settlement mediation 



We thank Dr. J. Pechenik for his comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by research grants (CAS-CF03/04, HKUST 6402/05M, COMRRDA04/05.SC01, CA04/05.SC01) to P.Y. Qian.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.-Y. Qian
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. C. K. Lau
    • 1
    • 4
  • H.-U. Dahms
    • 1
  • S. Dobretsov
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Harder
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Coastal Marine LabHong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.Leibniz Institut für MeereswissenschaftenKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)University of OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  4. 4.Division of Environmental Science and EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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