Evaluating innovative coatings to suppress priority AIS

Phase II: 

In Phase I, researchers successfully produced an antifouling paint with an enzyme (GcL). The enzyme-embedded paint was applied to coupons at different sites in Minnesota, including the Duluth-Superior Harbor, the Tonka Bay Marina at Lake Minnetonka, and the Mississippi River UMN docks (Twin Cities campus). The experimental coupons were monitored at multiple timepoints during the 2019 field season. Sample analysis revealed that our enzyme-embedded coating inhibits biofouling at all of the different sites, and more specifically inhibited the adhesion of zebra mussels. These results provide evidence that this coating technology has the potential to reduce the adhesion of sessile aquatic invasive species to surfaces in several real world settings.

In Phase II, researchers will test the coatings in new sitations, such as on Minnesota DNR buoys and on half of a boat. The project will perform these experiments over two years. These experiments are essential to raise stakeholders and potential customers’ interest.

Phase I:

This project will develop and test a new coating that can mitigate the spread of zebra mussels while minimizing non-target impacts. The build-up of algae, microorganisms, and bivalves such as zebra mussels onto surfaces is a natural phenomenon known as biofouling. A current way to fight biofouling involves using coatings that contain metals, which are harmful to the environment. This project is evaluating a new generation of coatings containing a non-toxic, anti-fouling biological molecule.

Coated samples will be submerged in the field and samples will be analyzed using microscopy. Organisms present will be quantified and measured. If successful, enzyme-based coatings could help mitigate the spread of invasive species like zebra mussels in Minnesota and beyond.

Project manager: Mikael Elias

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Project start date: 2019

Estimated project end date: Dec. 2022