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U of M studies bacteria to kill zebra mussels

Research continues of the U of M to see if bacteria can kill zebra mussels.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - More than two years ago, the Aquatic Research Lab opened at the University of Minnesota.

Some of the research happening there is about combating zebra mussels using a specific pathogen or type of bacteria.

"Initial findings give us insights to the microbes that are enriched in zebra mussels compared to the environment," said Prince Mathai, research associate at the U of M. "Some of them are also known pathogens. So we are focusing our efforts to isolate those pathogens."

What the researchers want to do is find a pathogen that targets the zebra mussel, but nothing else.

"We don't want to introduce any kind of pathogens that are going to target native mussels," Mathai said.

In their lab on campus is a series of tanks. One of them will be the control, or the tank that won't be tested on; the others will see an introduction of the pathogen and its effectiveness at different water temperatures. The tanks will range from 59 degrees all the way to 77 degrees.

"The end goal is to find opportunistic pathogens who are specific to the invasive species but not to the natives," said Mathai.

Mathai said that this research will likely continue for the next year and they hope to find a better way to control zebra mussels.

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