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Does a nano-scale nipple array (moth-eye structure) suppress the settlement of ascidian larvae?

  • Euichi Hirose (a1) and Noburu Sensui (a2)


In some metazoans, the body surface is entirely or partly covered with an array of nipples about 100 nm or less in height. This structure, a nipple array, is sometimes called the moth-eye structure because it serves as an anti-reflection property on the compound eyes of a night moth. The nipple array is supposed to be a multifunctional structure since this structure occurs in various species across different taxa. Here, we hypothesize that the nipple array may prevent the settlement of epibionts that are often a nuisance and potentially cause serious problems for the host. Using a synthetic film that imitates the nipple array, we tested the substrate selection within ascidian larval settlement. The results indicate that the nipple array has anti-fouling properties, since more larvae settled on the flat surface than the nipple array (P < 0.01, paired t-test). The present results demonstrated that the nipple array potentially serves an anti-fouling function on the body surface, which should be important especially for sessile organisms.


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Author for correspondence: Euichi Hirose, E-mail:


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