Multicellular structures of biofilms are common in nature. While some are beneficial, others are associated with human infections and problems in industry and marine surfaces. The main objective of AntifoMar is to develop compounds that can inhibit establishment or remove these biofilms, both for therapeutic and industrial use. To achieve this, AntifoMar will work highly interdisciplinary.


The AntifoMar project in brief

The problem the AntifoMar project wants to solve:

On sea:

Biofouling is a costly and destructive natural phenomenon that affects almost every economic sector from shipping to medicine. Marine biofouling represents a global challenge due to the increased costs and environmental issues. This as the biofouling have to be removed with chemicals, and you get increased maintenance costs on manmade marine structures.

In medicine:

Medical biofilms are found in in more than 80% of chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases caused by bacteria. This is severe, as antibiotics have a dramatically lower effect on microorganisms that are in a biofilm, as the biofilm acts as a protective environment.


The solution that the AntifoMar project wants to develop:

AntifoMar will investigate marine invertebrates to find compounds that can inhibit and remove biofilms and biofouling.

Sessile marine invertebrates, like sponges, sea anemones, and tunicates also serve as surfaces for biofouling. Despite this, many of these organisms have developed strategies to combat fouling and maintain a clean exterior surface.

These marine invertebrates also host a range of microbial symbionts that often produce compounds (biofilm inhibitors?) protecting their host. For some sponge species, close to 50% of its dry weight is microorganisms. Marine invertebrates and their associated microorganisms are therefore likely a rich source for discovering novel chemical scaffolds and compounds with antifouling and antibiofilm bioactivities.


Milestones in the project:

The project will run from 2017 to 2020.

1)      Identify and characterize biofilm-inhibiting molecules from unexploited marine organisms.

2)      Identify the true producer (host or associated microorganisms).

3)      Synthesize and optimize identified antibiofilm molecules and derivatives.

4)      Provide innovative lead compounds for therapeutic/industrial applications.

5)      Provide interdisciplinary R&D education of 4 PhDs.


People and contact information
The AntifoMar project is an interdisciplinary project. You can find contact information to the different collaborators by pressing the names below:

Members in the AntifoMar project. Back row: Associate Professor Tor Haug, Professor Steinar D. Johansen, Professor Morten B. Strøm. Mid row: Dr. Johan Isaksson, Professor Bjarne Landfald. Front row: Professor Annette Bayer, Professor Johanna U. E. Sollid, Professor Klara Stensvåg (project leader). Foto: Susanne Olsrud Hotvedt

Norwegian College of Fishery Science, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics:

Professor Klara Stensvåg (project leader)

Professor Bjarne Landfald

Associate Professor Tor Haug

Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences:

Professor Morten B. Strøm

Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences:

Professor Steinar D. Johansen

Professor Johanna U. E. Sollid

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology:

Professor Annette Bayer

Dr. Johan Isaksson

Ansvarlig for prosjektet: Klara Stensvåg

Word explanations:

A biofilm is an aggregate of microorganisms stuck to a surface.

Biofouling is when aggregates of microorganisms (biofilms) and other organisms stick on surfaces in water, such as on ships and oil instalations.

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