Mini-review: Inhibition of biofouling by marine microorganisms

Sergey Dobretsov*, Raeid M.M. Abed, Max Teplitski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

204 Citations (Scopus)


Any natural or artificial substratum exposed to seawater is quickly fouled by marine microorganisms and later by macrofouling species. Microfouling organisms on the surface of a substratum form heterogenic biofilms, which are composed of multiple species of heterotrophic bacteria, cyanobacteria, diatoms, protozoa and fungi. Biofilms on artificial structures create serious problems for industries worldwide, with effects including an increase in drag force and metal corrosion as well as a reduction in heat transfer efficiency. Additionally, microorganisms produce chemical compounds that may induce or inhibit settlement and growth of other fouling organisms. Since the last review by the first author on inhibition of biofouling by marine microbes in 2006, significant progress has been made in the field. Several antimicrobial, antialgal and antilarval compounds have been isolated from heterotrophic marine bacteria, cyanobacteria and fungi. Some of these compounds have multiple bioactivities. Microorganisms are able to disrupt biofilms by inhibition of bacterial signalling and production of enzymes that degrade bacterial signals and polymers. Epibiotic microorganisms associated with marine algae and invertebrates have a high antifouling (AF) potential, which can be used to solve biofouling problems in industry. However, more information about the production of AF compounds by marine microorganisms in situ and their mechanisms of action needs to be obtained. This review focuses on the AF activity of marine heterotrophic bacteria, cyanobacteria and fungi and covers publications from 2006 up to the end of 2012.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-441
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • antifouling defence
  • biofilm
  • biofouling
  • inhibition
  • larval settlement
  • marine microorganism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Water Science and Technology


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