Fouling species produce adhesive polymers during the settlement, adhesion and colonization of new surfaces in the marine environment. The present paper tests the hypothesis that enzymes of the appropriate specificity may prevent biofouling by hydrolysing these adhesive polymers. Seventeen commercially available enzyme preparations designed originally for bulk use in a range of end-use applications were tested for their effects on the settlement and/or adhesion of three major fouling species, viz. the green alga Ulva linza, the diatom Navicula perminuta and the barnacle Balanus amphitrite. The serine-proteases were found to have the broadest antifouling potential reducing the adhesion strength of spores and sporelings of U. linza, cells of N. perminuta and inhibiting settlement of cypris larvae of B. amphitrite. Mode-of-action studies on the serine-protease, Alcalase, indicated that this enzyme reduced adhesion of U. linza in a concentration-dependent manner, that spores of the species could recover their adhesive strength if the enzyme was removed and that the adhesive of U. linza and juvenile cement of B. amphitrite became progressively less sensitive to hydrolysis as they cured.
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