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Interfering With Invasive Mussels

Researchers are exploring whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can be used to control invasive mussels found in freshwaters in the US, the Chicago Tribune reports.

It adds that zebra and quagga mussels were introduced into the Great Lakes and US about 30 years ago and have spread across the country. Measures to try to control them have been expensive, ineffective in open water, or harmful to native mussels, leading researchers to now examine genetic control methods.

According to the Tribune, University of Wisconsin River Falls' Scott Ballantyne is investigating whether RNAi can be used to target and turn off genes zebra mussels need for survival and spread, like ones involved in making their shells. Meanwhile, it adds that Yale Passamaneck from the US Bureau of Reclamation is examining whether CRISPR-based tools could be applied to control quagga mussels by possibly targeting its reproduction.

The researchers, though, tell the Tribune that multiple approaches might be needed to combat the mussels. "It's going to take a lot of work by a lot of people to get there," Passamaneck tells it.