Effects of surface texture and interrelated properties on marine biofouling: a systematic review

This systematic review examines effects of surface texture on marine biofouling and characterizes key research methodologies. Seventy-five published articles met selection criteria for qualitative analysis; experimental data from 36 underwent quantitative meta-analysis. Most studies investigated fouling mechanisms and antifouling performance only in laboratory assays with one to several test species. Textures were almost exclusively a single layer of regularly arranged geometric features rather than complex hierarchical or irregular designs. Textures in general had no effect or an inconclusive effect on fouling in 46% of cases. However, effective textures more often decreased (35%) rather than increased (19%) fouling. Complex designs were more effective against fouling (51%) than were regular geometric features (32%). Ratios of feature height, width, or pitch to organism body length were significant influences. The authors recommend further research on promising complex and hierarchical texture designs with more test species, as well as field studies to ground-truth laboratory results.