Metagenomic approaches to develop biological control strategies for aquatic invasive species

Project manager: Michael Sadowsky

Description: Microorganisms are closely associated with aquatic invasive species, possibly including harmless commensal bacteria as well as enteric bacteria and pathogens. This project aims to characterize the total microbial community structures associated with zebra mussels, quagga mussels, and Eurasian watermilfoil to determine if they contain any potential biocontrols for managing these AIS.

Zebra mussels, quagga mussels, and Eurasian watermilfoil samples will be collected from several water bodies where there are new AIS invasions, sudden changes of population density, or die-off events occurring. After dissection and observation, DNA will be obtained from all organs and tissues using DNA extraction kits. Water and sediment samples will also be collected near the sites to determine their influence on the microbial community.

In addition to providing valuable information on potential biocontrols for zebra mussels, quagga mussels, and Eurasian watermilfoil, this study may also allow us to develop molecular marker methods to ascertain the presence/absence of these AIS and quantify their abundance in lakes.

Project start date: 2015

Estimated project end date: 2017


In 2016, samples of zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil were collected from more than 35 lakes in Minnesota, along with water and sediment samples. These samples are now being processed for physicochemical and microbiological analyses. DNA sequencing data analyses were performed on all Eurasian watermilfoil and water samples collected last year, and data is currently suggesting that Eurasian watermilfoil harbors a distinct microbial community with respect to the surrounding water. Going forward, sequence data analyses will be performed on all samples collected in 2016. Additionally, all samples will be screened for potential human pathogens using molecular and culture-based methods.