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Biofouling. 2014;30(3):271-9. doi: 10.1080/08927014.2013.863280. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Prolonged morphometric study of barnacles grown on soft substrata of hydrogels and elastomers.

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a Laboratory of Soft & Wet Matter, Division of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science , Hokkaido University , Sapporo , Japan.


A long-term investigation of the shell shape and the basal morphology of barnacles grown on tough, double-network (DN) hydrogels and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer was conducted in a laboratory environment. The elastic modulus of these soft substrata varied between 0.01 and 0.47 MPa. Polystyrene (PS) (elastic modulus, 3 GPa) was used as a hard substratum control. It was found that the shell shape and the basal plate morphology of barnacles were different on the rigid PS substratum compared to the soft substrata of PDMS and DN hydrogels. Barnacles on the PS substratum had a truncated cone shape with a flat basal plate while on soft PDMS and DN gels, barnacles had a pseudo-cylindrical shape and their basal plates showed curvature. In addition, a large adhesive layer was observed under barnacles on PDMS, but not on DN gels. The effect of substratum stiffness is discussed in terms of barnacle muscle contraction, whereby the relative stiffness of the substratum compared to that of the muscle is considered as the key parameter.

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