Sequencing of the quagga mussel genome as a tool for biocontrol

Project ID: 1866
Principal Investigator: Yale Passamaneck
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

Invasive quagga mussels, which form dense aggregations that can clog water intakes and other submerged infrastructure, pose a significant threat to water and power delivery by the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) in the Western United States. Once established in a water body, invasive mussels dramatically increase operations and maintenance costs for facilities, as well as having other economic impacts. At USBR facilities along the Lower Colorado River, contracting costs and operations and maintenance costs to mitigate the impact of quagga mussels are calculated to have already exceeded $2.6 million, and are forecast to be in excess of $9 million over the coming decade. One of the most significant challenges associated with quagga mussels is that, at present, no practicable approaches exist to eliminate, or even control, mussel populations in open water once they have become established. A major impediment to developing new control technologies is that relatively little is yet know about quagga mussel biology, particularly in regards to their genome. Sequencing the quagga mussel genome will allow identification of vulnerabilities that can be targeted for control measures through integrated pest management. The proposed research will sequence and assemble the genome of the quagga mussel. Availability of the quagga mussel genome sequence will provide a valuable toolkit for understanding the biology of this invasive organism and developing control techniques. Having the quagga genome will provide insight into fundamental aspects of quagga biology, such as the basis of sex determination, regulation of reproduction, and chemical attractants and deterrents. Targeted control techniques, such as genome editing with CRISPR/Cas9 would only effect quagga mussels, and could not spread to other organisms in the environment. Because the specific genetic mechanisms regulating sex determination and reproduction are as yet unknown in quagga mussels, this project will sequence the g

Need and Benefit

Invasive dreissenid mussels, and in particular quagga mussels, pose significant challenges for the USBR, as they are prolific breeders and can settle in USBR facilities. Quagga mussels create the potential for equipment failure and dramatically increase operations and maintenance costs for USBR, as well as impacting the ecology of waterbodies where they become established. Currently no viable methods exist for open-water control of quagga mussel populations once they become established in a water body.

Sequencing of the quagga mussel genome will provide significant information about the biology of this invasive species. Specifically, analysis of quagga genome will highlight vulnerabilities that may be targeted through integrated pest management approaches to control this species.

As quagga mussels continue to spread and become established in more USBR waters, risks to water and power delivery, as well as associated operations and maintenance costs required to mitigate impacts, will continue to increase. It is therefore imperative to build our knowledge about the biology of this species as a basis for developing new biocontrol approaches and technologies to combat these invasions and mitigate their impacts.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17