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Biofilm-inhibiting chemical protects surfaces: red alga


Delisea / Peter Steinb.. / LicenseCopyright - All Rights Reserved

Delisea pulchra protects itself from bacterial infection by exuding compounds that inhibit biofilms.

The red seaweed Delisea pulchra effectively avoids a broad spectrum of bacterial infections without breeding any bacterial resistance to its defensive chemistry. Molecules known as furanones produced by the seaweed bind readily to the specific protein-covered bacterial receptor sites that receive the bacterial signaling molecules (N-acyl homoserine lactone) that normally induce surface colonization. This method of blocking bacterial communication effectively prevents bacteria from forming groups and becoming virulent, but does not physically kill them. Over 80% of bacterial infections in humans are estimated to involve the formation of bacterial colonies, or biofilms, while numerous other potential applications for this completely novel anti-bacterial technology exist. BioSignal Ltd. is now testing and/or already applying synthetic furanones based on those produced by Delisea pulchra in a variety of applications, including medical treatment and devices; pipelines; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems; cleaning products; and water treatment.
About the inspiring organism
Red alga
Delisea pulchra (Greville) Montagne

Habitat(s): Marine Neritic
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: AlgaeBase
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Anti-fouling products, anti-bacterial materials and coatings, water treatment applications, cleaning products, anti-corrosive for oil and gas pipelines, drug candidate for treatment of lung infections.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Industrial, building, medical, pharmacological

Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation
Peter Steinberg
Faculty of Science, University of New South Wales
Dworjanyn, S. A.; de Nys, R.; Steinberg, P. D. 2006. Chemically mediated antifouling in the red alga Delisea pulchra. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 318: 153-163.
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Maximilien, R.; de Nys, R.; Holmström, C.; Gram, L.; Givskov, M. C.; Crass, K.; Kjelleberg, S.; Steinberg, P. 1998. Chemical mediation of bacterial surface colonisation by secondary metabolites from the red alga Delisea pulchra. Aquatic Microbiology Ecology. 15: 233-246.
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Wright, J. T.; de Nys, R.; Steinberg, P. D. 2000. Geographic variation in halogenated furanones from the red alga Delisea pulchra and associated herbivores and epiphytes. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 207: 227-241.
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Rasmussen, T. B.; Manefield, M.; Andersen, J. B.; Eberl, L.; Anthoni, U.; Christophersen, C.; Steinberg, P.; Kjelleberg, S.; Givskov, M. 2000. How Delisea pulchra furanones affect quorum sensing and swarming motility in Serratia liquefaciens MG1. Soc General Microbiol. 3237-3244 p.
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Manefield, M.; de Nys, R.; Kumar, N.; Read, R.; Givskov, M.; Steinberg, P.; Kjelleberg, S. 1999. Evidence that halogenated furanones from Delisea pulchra inhibit acylated homoserine lactone (AHL)-mediated gene expression by displacing the AHL signal from its receptor protein [In Process Citation]. Microbiology. 145(2): 283-291.
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over 7 years ago

No harvesting required (or desired...we would consider that bioutilization, not biomimicry).. The idea is to mimic how the algae sends out signals that figuratively "plug the ears" of the bacteria so that they don't form biofilms. See the bio-inspired products for a link to the company's website.
over 7 years ago
This sounds like a really cool idea, but how would it be made/harvested and applied?
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