Survey of ‘Cousin’ Dreissenid Species in Eurasia for Potential Biocontrol Agents to Control Invasive Quagga and Zebra Mussels in North America

Project ID: 22005
Principal Investigator: Jacque Keele
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2022 and 2023
Keywords: None

Research Question

Can a host-specific, efficacious biocontrol agent organism be identified for QM/ZM by surveying the parasites of 'cousin' dreissenid species in Eurasia? The identification of potential biocontrol agents to QM/ZM would be the first step in the development of a method to control both invasive QM/ZM in North American waters. For this project, populations of QM/ZM (D. rostriformis bugensis and D. polymorpha) will be evaluated at the Field Research Station in Montenegro for their "naivete" to parasites that normally infect only 'cousin' Dreissena spp. There are several 'cousin' dreissenid species in Eurasia (D. caputlacus, D. anatolica, D. blanci, and D. carinata) whose evolution diverged from QM/ZM millions of years ago. These dreissenid populations continued to be geographically isolated from each other throughout waterbodies in Eurasia (for example, D. anatolica and D. caputlacus are only found in Turkey and have never encountered populations of QM/ZM). Since North American populations of QM/ZM have never encountered the parasites from these 'cousin' dreissenids, infections may prove lethal/debilitating (i.e., because QM/ZM have not co-evolved with cousin's parasite, they may have little to no ability to fight off their infection). Our central goal is to identify these parasites, evaluate them against QM/ZM, and find a new and novel environmentally safe, inexpensive, and effective biocontrol agent for QM/ZM in North America.

Need and Benefit

This project was discussed with Sherri Pucherelli, Invasive Species Research Coordinator. She is a collaborator on this proposal and has been involved in both previous projects related to this current proposal. She has reviewed, participated in the development of this proposal, and is a key person with this proposal. This project also addresses the management and control, biological control topic of need that was identified by the Invasive Mussel Research Roadmap.

Continued in Section VII

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20