Barnacles are a major cause of fouling of ship hulls (Image: NOAA)
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.
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