The Use of 3D Optical Coherence Tomography to Analyze the Architecture of Cyanobacterial Biofilms Formed on a Carbon Nanotube Composite

Maria J. Romeu, Marta Lima, Luciana C. Gomes, Ed D. de Jong, João Morais, Vítor Vasconcelos, Manuel F.R. Pereira, Olívia S.G.P. Soares, Jelmer Sjollema, Filipe J. Mergulhão*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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The development of environmentally friendly antifouling strategies for marine applications is of paramount importance, and the fabrication of innovative nanocomposite coatings is a promising approach. Moreover, since Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a powerful imaging technique in biofilm science, the improvement of its analytical power is required to better evaluate the biofilm structure under different scenarios. In this study, the effect of carbon nanotube (CNT)-modified surfaces in cyanobacterial biofilm development was assessed over a long-term assay under controlled hydrodynamic conditions. Their impact on the cyanobacterial biofilm architecture was evaluated by novel parameters obtained from three-dimensional (3D) OCT analysis, such as the contour coefficient, total biofilm volume, biovolume, volume of non-connected pores, and the average size of non-connected pores. The results showed that CNTs incorporated into a commercially used epoxy resin (CNT composite) had a higher antifouling effect at the biofilm maturation stage compared to pristine epoxy resin. Along with a delay in biofilm development, a decrease in biofilm wet weight, thickness, and biovolume was also achieved with the CNT composite compared to epoxy resin and glass (control surfaces). Additionally, biofilms developed on the CNT composite were smoother and presented a lower porosity and a strictly packed structure when compared with those formed on the control surfaces. The novel biofilm parameters obtained from 3D OCT imaging are extremely important when evaluating the biofilm architecture and behavior under different scenarios beyond marine applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4410
Number of pages18
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2022


  • antifouling surfaces
  • carbon nanotubes
  • cyanobacterial biofilms
  • marine biofouling
  • Optical Coherence Tomography

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