Eurasian and hybrid watermilfoil genotype distribution in Minnesota

Project manager: Ray Newman

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Description: Invasive Eurasian watermilfoil is known to hybridize with native Northern watermilfoil in some lakes in Minnesota. This hybrid watermilfoil is also invasive and some strains have shown resistance to management efforts including herbicide treatments. However, much is unknown about the genetic makeup, diversity, and distribution of hybrid watermilfoil throughout the state, making management efforts very difficult. 

In partnership with Montana State University, this project will quantify the genetic diversity of Eurasian, hybrid, and northern watermilfoil in sixty Minnesota lakes and will help answer questions such as:

  • Do different genotypes present increased invasiveness or tolerance to control techniques?
  • Are there patterns of hybrid watermilfoil invasion? Are plants hybridizing within a lake, or is one hybrid strain being moved among lakes?
  • How is hybrid watermilfoil interacting with native plant communities?

The collected watermilfoil samples will first be genetically identified as Eurasian, northern, or hybrid. Later, the hybrid samples will be genotyped using molecular genetic techniques to determine whether specific genotypes are widespread or have restricted distribution, related to management activities or environmental factors, or if they’re hybridizing within lakes.

Understanding the patterns of invasion as well as genetic diversity of this plant to help lake managers develop and refine management strategies.

Project start date: 2017

Estimated project end date: 2019

Progress and updates: