Biofilms are found everywhere, and are highly variable and adaptable, which means no two will be the same!
Unlike other biofilms, such as medical and wastewater biofilms that are predominantly comprised of bacteria, aquatic (living in or near water) biofilms also contain microalgae. The ratio of bacteria to microalgae depends on environmental conditions such as water salinity, temperature and nutrient availability. See here for how biofilms develop into biofouling communities.
Attachment to surfaces by micro and macro organisms is often an essential part of their life cycle and they may attach to feed, mature and reproduce.
More than 4,000 biofouling species have been identified to date, usually classified as:
- i) non-calcareous (soft) such as slime, tunicates, sponges, algae and hydroids.
- ii) calcareous (hard) such as molluscs, tubeworms, encrusting bryozoans, barnacles and mussels.
|Type of biofouling
||Organism (common name)
||Examples from coastal waters of the British Isles
||Fucus spp, Laminaria spp, Ectocarpus spp
||Enteromorpha spp, Claddophora spp, Ulva spp
||Polysiphona spp, Ceramiun spp
||Tubularia spp, Obelia spp, Plumularia spp
||Membranipora spp, Bugula spp
||Sea squirt, Botryllus spp
||Fan, Hydroides, Pomatoceros spp
Further reading on biofouling organisms
Marine Biofouling. Science Direct Topic, 2007. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/marine-biofouling
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