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Surface wettability as a determinant in the settlement of the barnacle Balanus Improvisus (DARWIN)

Journal article
Authors Mia Dahlström
Henrik Jonsson
Per R. Jonsson
Hans-Björne Elwing
Published in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Volume 305
Issue 2
Pages 223-232
ISSN 0022-0981
Publication year 2004
Published at Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Department of Marine Ecology
Pages 223-232
Language en
Keywords Balanus Improvisus, settlement, surface chemistry, wettability, AMPHITRITE DARWIN, CYPRIS LARVAE, ATTACHMENT, ADHESION, RECRUITMENT, COATINGS, PANELS, FILMS
Subject categories Ecology


Several studies have shown that the initial surface wettability, is of importance in the settlement of macrofouling larvae such as barnacles, bryozoans and hydroids in the field as well as in laboratory assays. In this study we present results from laboratory assays using hydrophilic and hydrophobic polystyrene (PS) and cyprid larvae of Balanus improvisus (Darwin). The results obtained differ markedly from those reported for the barnacle Balanus amphitrite (Darwin), where a high surface wettability seemed to be preferred for settlement. Our results show that a surface with intermediary wettability (hydrophilic PS) reduced settlement by 38% as compared to surfaces of low wettability (hydrophobic PS) during an 8-day period. During the experiment, the wettability in the hydrophilic PS dishes was not significantly changed as measured by advancing contact angle with mQ water. Over an 8-day period wettability of the hydrophobic PS dishes approached that of the hydrophilic PS surfaces. We further conducted experiments with highly hydrophilic and highly hydrophobic methylsilane-treated glass surfaces with known chemistry. In this experiment, the settlement of cyprid larvae was completely inhibited by the high wettability surfaces. Contact angle measurements revealed that the wettability during the length of the experiment of the hydrophilic glass surfaces was not significantly altered. We conclude by these experiments that even an intermediate wettability can significantly affect the overall settlement success of the barnacle B. improvisus. The mechanism by which the settlement is impeded might be biologically mediated through the recognition by cyprid larvae of the molecular composition of the surface when the cyprid reverts to the settlement phase, i.e. when swimming behaviour is abandoned in favour of surface exploration, or it is mediated by physicochemical forces acting between the surface and the larval body or the larval antennules. (C) 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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