Microtopography and antifouling properties of the shell surface of the bivalve molluscs Mytilus galloprovincialis and Pinctada imbricata

Andrew Scardino, Rocky De Nys*, Odette Ison, Wayne O'Connor, Peter Steinberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


Biofouling rapidly covers most submerged surfaces in the marine environment. However, some marine organisms remain clean despite strong fouling pressure. Potential physical inhibitors of fouling were investigated by comparing the thickness, cover, and microtopographic structure of the periostracum of two bivalve molluscs, the blue mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis, and the pearl oyster, Pinctada imbricata. The cover and thickness of the periostracum were measured on four size classes of each species using histological and microscopic techniques. The periostracum of M. galloprovincialis was significantly thicker than that of P. imbricata and did not differ significantly between size classes. In contrast, the periostracum of P. imbricata decreased significantly with increasing size in both thickness and cover. The microtopography of the shell surface of both species was measured using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which revealed a homogeneous ridged surface for M. galloprovincialis with a uniform distance of 1-2 μm between ridges with a mean depth of 1.5 μm. P. imbricata had a heterogeneous surface structure without a repeating structural pattern. To compare the potential antifouling properties of the shell surface the four size classes of both species were tested in fourteen-week field exposure trials. M. galloprovincialis was rarely fouled over the trial period with less than 10% of M. galloprovincialis shell across all size classes being fouled. In contrast, P. imbricata had significantly higher levels of fouling. Both the proportion of P. imbricata shells fouled and the density of fouling organisms were positively correlated with the age of the shell and the amount of intact periostracum. The relationship between the shell surface microtopography and the intensity of fouling is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofouling
  • Bivalves
  • Fouling deterrence
  • Mytilus galloprovincialis
  • Periostracum
  • Pinctada imbricata
  • Surface microtopography


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