12 Jul Superoxide kills invasive quagga mussels, new study shows
Quagga and zebra mussels are a huge and continually growing problem in freshwater lakes and waterways. Since their introduction to the U.S. in the 1980s, the National Wildlife Foundation notes the mussels have spread to 29 states.
These small mussels have a big effect on the overall aquatic ecosystem. They feed on types of plankton, which are traditionally eaten by smaller aquatic life. As their food source dwindles, it sends waves up the food chain.
Agencies and organizations have struggled to find a treatment for these mussels that doesn’t also impact other aquatic life. A new study shows an emerging solution – superoxide.
Superoxide is a type of oxygen that can’t be processed by quagga and zebra mussels because they don’t produce high enough levels of manganese-type superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD). Mn-SOD is a compound that most other living organisms naturally create that allows them to process superoxide.
The study tested the impact of superoxide on quagga mussels, and found:
- The adult quagga mussel mortality rate reached 36 percent at day 11 of treatment exposure, and 74 percent at day 17 of exposure in a recirculating system. The control average was 9 percent.
- The superoxide treatment killed nearly 19 percent more veligers at 48 hours than the control. The treatment’s veliger mussel mortality rate reached as high as 87 percent at 48 hours in a recirculating system.
- It is likely that similar mortality rates would be seen in zebra mussels, which have identically low Mn-SOD rates as quagga mussels.