zebra mussels attached to a dock

Zebra mussels have, since 1991, become a huge problem in the hudson river. They devour the phytoplankton and disrupt the ecosystem, and, being an invasive species and having no natural predators in the americas, their population has soared uncontrollably. Until recently, Dr. Daniel Malloy has discovered a species of bacteria that is deadly to the shellfish, and to his knowledge, not to any other organism in the ecosystem. This solution might be just what the Hudson river ecosystem needs, a way to eradicate the aggressive zebra mussel without using chemicals that are harmful to the rest of the river’s inhabitants. This idea sprang from the use of the natural pesticide BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to control blackflies. Malloy has discovered a species of  Pseudomonas fluorescens called “Strain CL145A” that had the desired affect on zebra mussels. When ingested, the dead cells of the bacteria, emit a toxin that destroys the digestive tracts of mussels, the live cells, outside of the digestive system have little to no effect. Malloy and his team are working on finding a fresh water strain of the bacteria to start to eradicate invasive mussels in other bodies of water.


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