Fouling of hulls is a major problem for world shipping – for private leisure craft as well as large cargo ships – with barnacles being a major culprit.
It reduces the performance of vessels and increases their fuel requirements. Medetomidine has proved effective in preventing fouling of ship bottoms and now researchers attempting to develop new, environmentally friendly methods to limit marine fouling have identified the gene that causes barnacles to react to the substance, opening up the possibility of an antifouling paint that is gentle to both barnacles and the environment.
Medetomidine is a veterinary medicine that has been shown to prevent barnacle larvae from attaching to ship’s hulls. In cooperation with colleagues at the universities of Turku and Helsinki, Professor Anders Blomberg at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg has succeeded in identifying and describing the gene that controls how barnacles sense and react to medetomidine.