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Biofouling. 2010 Apr;26(3):367-77. doi: 10.1080/08927011003605888.

Relevance of mytilid shell microtopographies for fouling defence--a global comparison.

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  • 1IfM-GEOMAR Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Kiel University, Düsternbrooker Weg 20 , 24105 Kiel, Germany.


Prevention of epibiosis is of vital importance for most aquatic organisms, which can have consequences for their ability to invade new areas. Surface microtopography of the shell periostracum has been shown to have antifouling properties for mytilid mussels, and the topography shows regional differences. This article examines whether an optimal shell design exists and evaluates the degree to which shell microstructure is matched with the properties of the local fouling community. Biomimics of four mytilid species from different regional provenances were exposed at eight different sites in both northern and southern hemispheres. Tendencies of the microtopography to both inhibit and facilitate fouling were detected after 3 and 6 weeks of immersion. However, on a global scale, all microtopographies failed to prevent fouling in a consistent manner when exposed to various fouling communities and when decoupled from other shell properties. It is therefore suggested that the recently discovered chemical anti-microfouling properties of the periostracum complement the anti-macrofouling defence offered by shell microtopography.

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