'Biobullets' fight harmful mussels

January 31, 2006

British researchers have developed a "biobullet" that could help control an invasive mollusk that has ravaged U.S. waterways for nearly two decades clogging water pipes, virtually wiping out some native mussels species and causing billions of dollars in industrial damage. The new microcapsules, which contain toxins that dissolve within a zebra mussel's digestive tract, offer a safe and cost-effective way of eliminating one of the world's "most important economic pests" without harming other aquatic life, according to scientists at the University of Cambridge.

The report, in the Feb. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal, outlines how zoologist David Aldridge and colleagues developed microcapsules about the size of the algae particles that zebra mussels feed on. Once ingested, the "biobullets" slowly release small amounts of potassium chloride, a salt that is poisonous to most freshwater mollusks. Unlike other methods used to eradicate zebra mussels, such as chlorine, "biobullets" pose little or no threat to other marine animals, the researchers say, because they rapidly degrade and disperse in water.

Since their accidental introduction from Eastern Europe into the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, zebra mussels have become notorious aquatic pests, fouling water intake pipes at hydroelectric stations, nuclear power plants and industrial facilities. In addition, zebra mussels can anchor themselves to other mollusks, making it impossible for native species to thrive. In some case, as many as 10,000 zebra mussels have attached themselves to a single native mussel, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In all, the researchers note, coping with these pests costs upward of $5 billion annually.

Without many natural predators, zebra mussels have rapidly spread and are now found in 21 states including Oklahoma, Louisiana and Vermont, according to the USGS. Unchecked, many scientists suspect zebra mussels will soon spread throughout North American waterways.
-end-
The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

The online version of the research paper cited above was initially published Dec. 22 on the journal's Web site. Journalists can arrange access to this site by sending an e-mail to newsroom@acs.org or calling the contact person for this release.

American Chemical Society

Related Water Articles from Brightsurf:

Transport of water to mars' upper atmosphere dominates planet's water loss to space
Instead of its scarce atmospheric water being confined in Mars' lower atmosphere, a new study finds evidence that water on Mars is directly transported to the upper atmosphere, where it is converted to atomic hydrogen that escapes to space.

Water striders learn from experience how to jump up safely from water surface
Water striders jump upwards from the water surface without breaking it.

'Pregnancy test for water' delivers fast, easy results on water quality
A new platform technology can assess water safety and quality with just a single drop and a few minutes.

Something in the water
Between 2015 and 2016, Brazil suffered from an epidemic outbreak of the Zika virus, whose infections occurred throughout the country states.

Researchers create new tools to monitor water quality, measure water insecurity
A wife-husband team will present both high-tech and low-tech solutions for improving water security at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Seattle on Sunday, Feb.

The shape of water: What water molecules look like on the surface of materials
Water is a familiar substance that is present virtually everywhere.

Water, water everywhere -- and it's weirder than you think
Researchers at The University of Tokyo show that liquid water has 2 distinct molecular arrangements: tetrahedral and non-tetrahedral.

What's in your water?
Mixing drinking water with chlorine, the United States' most common method of disinfecting drinking water, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts, says Carsten Prasse from Johns Hopkins University and his collaborators from the University of California, Berkeley and Switzerland.

How we transport water in our bodies inspires new water filtration method
A multidisciplinary group of engineers and scientists has discovered a new method for water filtration that could have implications for a variety of technologies, such as desalination plants, breathable and protective fabrics, and carbon capture in gas separations.

Source water key to bacterial water safety in remote Northern Australia
In the wet-dry topics of Australia, drinking water in remote communities is often sourced from groundwater bores.

Read More: Water News and Water Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.