Promising Research To Combat Aquatic Invasives
In our seemingly never-ending battle against aquatic invasives, a new New York Times article shows some biological promise in the fight. Written by longtime Hudson river chronicler and historian, Robert Boyle, a new bacterium has been discovered that kills zebra and quagga mussels.
The rapid growth of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lake’s states has long been a concern. These mussels devour phytoplankton, which is the foundation of the aquatic food web. They also add multi-millions of dollars to public infrastructure costs by clogging city water intakes and pipes, along with those of power plants and factories.
A New York state emeritus biologist, Daniel Molloy, discovered the new bacterium, called Pseudomonas fluorescens strain CL145M, that kills the invading mussels but doesn’t seem to have any impact on other natural organisms. Molloy is known as a pioneer in the development of environmentally safe control agents to replace broad spectrum chemical pesticides.
A company in California was awarded a license by New York state to develop a commercial version of the bacterium. Called Zequanox, the product has been used in test trials on Lake Carlos in Minnesota where it killed more than 90 percent of the exotic mussels.
Minnesota has continued to look for biological, rather than chemical, agents and solutions to combat Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed, and zebra and quagga mussels.
The Lake Carlos success and the utilization of Zequanox elsewhere should help spur further biological research being done by our new Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center under Dr. Peter Sorensen. Scientific research is important to a healthy and natural environment.
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