Reclamation invests in novel invasive mussel research

Written by: Peter Soeth

The caption is invasive mussel larvae under a microscope.
The caption is invasive mussel larvae under a microscope.
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Reclamation has signed a $755,800 cooperative agreement with Biomilab LLC to develop a novel technique to control invasive quagga and zebra mussels. Biomilab is pursuing this goal using cutting-edge methods of cell culture, genetic engineering and genomic modification.

Biomilab received the only full award in Reclamation’s Eradication of Invasive Mussels in Open Water Prize Competition in 2018. The prize competition was a theoretical challenge and sought innovative solutions to eradicate invasive quagga and zebra mussels from large reservoirs, lakes and rivers in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. This contract is building upon what was learned in this prize competition.

The funding provided for Biomilab's research is just one of the invasive mussel research activities being undertaken in 2020. Reclamation is investing a total of $1.85 million in invasive mussel research in 2020. Reclamation is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other private companies on many of these research efforts.

"Invasive mussels pose significant challenges to water managers and can significantly damage the natural ecology of water systems," said Deputy Commissioner for Operations David Palumbo. "These research investments focus our efforts on improvements in monitoring, controlling and predicting the spread of invasive mussels at Reclamation sites."

Research activities include, the development of control methods for mussel settlement prevention at hydropower facilities including carbon dioxide treatment, electrical treatment, coatings and self-cleaning strainers, identification of parasites from the invasive mussel’s native range to be used as biological control agents, and sequencing the quagga mussel genome as a tool for genetic control. Risk mapping and predictive modeling of mussel spread in the West is also being pursued, along with studies designed to help better understand the impact and cost of mussels to Reclamation.

Funding for these projects comes from Reclamation’s Research and Development Office and Reclamation's support for the Department of the Interior's Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species Initiative.

To learn more about invasive mussels and view a complete lists of research projects, please visit

Published on January 24, 2020