As for most organisms, competition is a great part of their lives. This is a negative interaction for both species as they must fight and use energy for precious food and natural resources. Chthamalus fragilis is not free of competition either. Their main competitor - Semibalanus balanoides - can outcompete Chthamalus fragilis for resources such as food, so this affects the location of C. fragilis. They take refuge from their better in the high intertidal zones. Here it is too hot for S. balanoides (Wethey 2002). Thus, here they are relatively free from competition. In an experiment, transplants of C. fragilis 80 km past the northern limit of S. balanoides survived up to eight years without the competition otherwise present (Wethey 2002).

            Another big part of Chthamalus fragilis’s life, which is commonly overlooked, is the interaction of the barnacle and the surfaces to which it sticks. In order to stick, the barnacle uses a special glue that is both extremely strong and can be adhesive under water. Researchers at the Okayama University's Marine Biotechnology Institute in Japan have revealed the salt in ocean water triggers the adhesive properties of C. fragilis and other barnacles’ glue (Gill 2007). The glue is made of peptide bonds that self-assemble in a waterproof substance. Disulfide bonds act as a bridge between the peptides in the glue. This holds it in a folded protein structure (Gill 2007). The researchers took this glue and added a solution of sodium chloride. Immediately a conformational change occurred that is what binds the barnacle to its chosen surface (Gill 2007).

            Barnacles aren’t the only ones who have taken an interest in this glue. Dentists and surgeons are studying this glue for medical purposes. It could be used to bind internal cuts from surgery or injury that occur in the body, which is moist environment. The interest in the glue has allowed for further research of C. fragilis.

            There is also a parasite of the barnacle Chthamalus fragilis. Fungal species in barnacles and other marine mammals are not numerous. However, when they appear, they can be very destructive. A recently discovered specie of Phycomycete, Lagenidium chthamalophilum, is a parasite of the barnacles’ ova (Johnson 1958). The fungal parasite usually effects embryos in their early stages, effectively killing them. Some embryos may escape infection by fleeing in the larval stage, but mostly what is left behind is a clump of destroyed ova ingrown with mycelium (Johnson 1958). 



Wethey, D. S. 2002. Biogeography, Competition, and Microclimate: The Barnacle Chthamalus fragilis in New England. Integrative and Comparative Biology 42: 872-880.

Gill, V. 2007. Salty water makes barnacles stick. Royal Society of Chemistry <URL:>. Accessed 21 March 2014.

Johnson, T. W. 1958. A Fungus Parasite in Ova of the barnacle Cthamalus fragilis Denticulata. The Biological Bulletin 114: 205-214.

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