A System-Wide Approach to Identify the Mechanisms of Barnacle Attachment: Toward the Discovery of New Antifouling Compounds

  • Sarah Al-Aqeel

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Biofouling is a significant economic problem, particularly for marine and offshore oil industries. The acorn barnacle (Amphibalanus (Balanus) amphitrite) is the main biofouling organism in marine environments. Environmental conditions, the physiology of the biofouling organism, the surrounding microbial community, and the properties of the substratum can all influence the attachment of biofouling organisms to substrates. My dissertation investigated the biological processes involved in B. amphitrite development and attachment in the unique environment of the Red Sea, where the average water surface temperature is 34°C and the salinity reaches 41‰. I profiled the transcriptome and proteome of B. amphitrite at different life stages (nauplius II, nauplius VI, and cyprid) and identified 65,784 expressed contigs and 1387 expressed proteins by quantitative proteomics. During the planktonic stage, genes related to osmotic stress, salt stress, the hyperosmotic response, and the Wnt signaling pathway were strongly up-regulated, hereas genes related to the MAPK pathway, lipid metabolism, and cuticle development were down-regulated. In the transition from the nauplius VI to cyprid stages, there was up-regulation of genes involved in blood coagulation, cuticle development, and eggshell formation, and down-regulation of genes in the nitric oxide pathway, which stimulates the swimming and feeding responses of marine invertebrates. This system-wide integrated approach elucidated the development and attachment pathways important in B. amphitrite. Enzymes and metabolites in these pathways are potential molecular targets for the development of new antifouling compounds.
Date of AwardNov 2015
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorTimothy Ravasi (Supervisor)


  • Barnacle
  • Biofouling
  • Transcriptome
  • Proteome
  • Attachment
  • Antifouling

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