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Soil Bacteria Could Help Kill Zebra Mussels

Aug 18, 2012 04:21 AM EDT

Scientists at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are working on a soil bacteria called Zequanox which could potentially help fight zebra mussels.

Researchers have for some time now been looking for solution to fight the growing infection of zebra mussels and could have finally found a cure. Researchers are using water from Lake Carlos in central Minnesota to create a natural environment for zebra mussels and then treating it with Zequanox, a common soil bacterium that is said to be toxic for zebra mussels. According to recent reports, the soil bacteria are also giving positive results.

DNR invasive species specialist Nathan Olson says the zequanox is proving to be effective and they would check in the fourth week to see how many zebra mussels have survived.

"It's pretty much killing itself as it eats," said Olson, who has set up shop in a 34-foot trailer near the lake to run the experiment.

"This is probably the best product we have right now that's really selective for zebra mussels," Olson said. "And they've tested it on a number of fish species and other native mussels and some other invertebrates and insects and so you know compared to some of the really corrosive options that we have, such as chlorine or copper sulfate, things like that. This is probably the best product that's out there right now."

"We're still doing it in a research setting, in a research trailer, there's no Zequanox being put into the lake," Olson said. "But they're actually still using lake water to at least mimic as much as possible what it would be like in a natural environment if you use this product."

The New York State Museum is also trying out a similar experiment with the same experiment. "If you find localized infestations of zebra mussels, this can be used to treat them at the source and prevent the spread, and thereby prevent lake wide infestation," says Denise Mayer, who's a scientist with New York State Museum.

The California company that is marketing the bacteria claims that the product kills mussels in all their stages of life, from baby to adult.

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