Utilizing QCM-D to characterize the adhesive mucilage secreted by two marine diatom species in-situ and in real-time
The quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) was used to monitor the deposition of adhesive extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) employed by the marine biofouling diatoms Craspedostauros australis Cox and Amphora coffeaeformis Cleve during initial adhesion and subsequent motility. Upon injection into the QCM chamber, initial negative frequency (f) shifts and positive dissipation (D) shifts were measured that correlated to cells impacting and adhering to the QCM sensor surface. Following this "initial adhesion" response, f continued to decrease while D increased logarithmically. Rather than the result of any cell morphological alterations at the substrate surface, the shifts were correlated to the time-dependent deposition of EPS upon the substrate surface as a result of cellular motility, or gliding. Experiments utilizing comparable cell concentrations of the diatom species C. australis and A. coffeaeformis revealed significant differences between the parameter responses recorded, where A. coffeaeformis produced Delta f and Delta D values of -32 Hz and 6.6, and C. australis produced values of -82 Hz and 42, respectively, after 20 h post-inoculation. The viscoelastic properties of the adhered EPS adlayer from both species were examined via a Delta f/Delta D plot, providing reproducible signature "ratio" values for each species that likely correlate to differences in EPS interactions with the substrate that may be associated directly to differences in the fouling potential of the two species. There is a distinct lack of knowledge regarding the chemical nature of the adhesive polymers engaged, and few quantitative techniques are applicable to the study of diatom EPS. We propose that QCM-D may be a useful tool in identifying differences in the EPS employed by diatoms of different fouling potential.