MINNEAPOLIS -- The Department of Natural Resources says nearly 60 lakes and rivers are infested with zebra mussels in the state of Minnesota.
"We are committed to stopping the spread of zebra mussels which can cause significant harm to a lake, river or stream's ecosystem and diminish recreational activity," said Minnesota Waters Executive Director Lois Sinn Lindquist.
The mussels can cause problems for swimmers along lake shores because of their sharp edges and can also clog boat intakes. Additionally, once they've infested a lake they can be nearly impossible to remove. As it turns out, there may now be a natural way to kill zebra mussels.
"Everywhere you see plants the roots are being protected by this species, Pseudomonas fluorescens. So we just got lucky and came across a strain which just happens to have natural byproducts inside the cell that when zebra mussel eats the cell they die," said Dr. Daniel Malloy.
Dr. Malloy, with the help of a research lab based in New York, discovered bacteria that is harmful to only zebra mussels. It grows naturally in plants and can already be found in our lakes. However, Dr. Malloy is quick to point out more research is needed. At this point it's not clear how much of the bacteria would be needed to combat mussels that are already in Minnesota waters.
The biological control method is now being commercialized under the product name Zequanox.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)