Principal Investigator
Joana Reis de Almeida

Leader Institution

Research Teams



NASCEM: Novel eco-friendly Antifouling Strategies based on Cyanobacterial bioactivE Metabolites

Marine biofouling is a critical concern for maritime industries worldwide due to the costly effects and environmental threats induced by antifouling (AF) coatings. Considering the toxicity of the majority of the AF agents in use (90% of them containing copper as active ingredient), effective and environmentally compatible alternatives to biofouling control are needed and have been widely pursued. The search for AF agents among marine natural products increases the chance of effectiveness, given the strategies naturally employed by marine organisms in chemical defence and other metabolic processes, and tends to be less harmful to the environment. However, other disadvantages arise when using natural products, including problems to obtain sufficient commercial supplies. Moreover, the lack of knowledge of the mode of action, specific target and environmental fate of the natural AF compounds, often keeps them away from being potentially incorporated in commercial paints. To complete the scenario for a suitable eco-friendly AF agent, beyond the AF effectiveness and environmental fate, a clear description of the AF mode of action towards the target biofouling species is needed (Biocidal Product Regulation (EU) 528/2012). This project aims to find natural alternatives to aggressive antifouling agents taking advantage of a key biological resource available in the CIIMAR research group, a cyanobacterial Culture Collection with more than 400 different strains. The antifouling potential of some strains derivatives was already confirmed and encourages further investigation on these topic. This project count on interdisciplinary expertize of the team in the way to the innovation on novel effective and eco-friendly antifouling strategies. From the discovery of effective natural antifouling metabolites towards both micro- and macrofouling organisms (CIIMAR researchers), finding the molecular mode of action behind the produced bioactivity (CIIMAR researchers and scientific consulter from Sweden), and go further to the immobilization and incorporation in polymeric coatings using a new patented technology (FCiências.ID team). This technology is able to not only maintain the functionalization of the bioactive molecules, but also guarantee a minimum release to the environment, which increases the durability of the coatings. This project will contribute to innovation in new compounds discovery and attributed bioactivity (susceptible of being patented); understanding of adhesive biofouling organism's physiological processes through the assessment of molecular mode of action; evaluation of cyanobacterial metabolites potential and added value; and ultimately to novel eco-friendly marine coatings. This expected results may open doors to a new generation of more ecological and cost-effective marine coatings, with all the positive implications that this provides for industries, for the environment and the society.