Antifouling potential of cyanobacteria: a mini-review

Biofouling. 2006;22(5-6):317-27. doi: 10.1080/08927010600967261.


Cyanobacteria produce a variety of bioactive metabolites that may have allelochemical functions in the natural environment, such as in the prevention of fouling by colonising organisms. Chemical compounds from cyanobacteria are also of biotechnological interest, especially for clinical applications, because of their antibiotic, algicidal, cytotoxic, immunosupressive and enzyme inhibiting activities. Cyanobacterial metabolites have the potential for use in antifouling technology, since they show antibacterial, antialgal, antifungal and antimacrofouling properties which could be expoited in the prevention of biofouling on man-made substrata in the aquatic environment. Molecules with antifouling activity represent a number of types including fatty acids, lipopeptides, amides, alkaloids, terpenoids, lactones, pyrroles and steroids. The isolation of biogenic compounds and the determination of their structure may provide leads for future development of, for example, environmentally friendly antifouling paints. An advantage of exploring the efficacy of cyanobacterial products is that the organisms can be grown in mass culture, which can be manipulated to achieve optimal production of bioactive substances. Phycotoxins and related products from cyanobacteria may serve as materials for antimicro- and antimacrofouling applications. A survey of antibiotic compounds with antifouling potential revealed more than 21 different antifouling substances from 27 strains of cyanobacteria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / metabolism
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents* / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents* / metabolism
  • Antifungal Agents* / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biotechnology
  • Cyanobacteria / chemistry
  • Cyanobacteria / growth & development
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism*
  • Diatoms / drug effects
  • Eukaryota / drug effects
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Viruses / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents