Daniel P. Molloy, Denise A. Mayer, Michael J. Gaylo, John T. Morse, Kathleen T. Presti, Paul M. Sawyko, Alexander Y. Karatayev, Lyubov E. Burlakova, Franck Laruelle, Kimi C. Nishikawa, Barbara H. Griffin
Division of Research & Collections, New York State Museum, New York State Education Department, Albany, NY 12230, USA.
Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) are the “poster children” of high-impact aquatic invasive species. In an effort to develop an effective and environmentally acceptable method to control their fouling of raw-water conduits, we have investigated the potential use of bacteria and their natural metabolic products as selective biological control agents. An outcome of this effort was the discovery of Pseudomonas fluorescens strain CL145A – an environmental isolate that kills these dreissenid mussels by intoxication (i.e., not infection). In the present paper, we use molecular methods to reconfirm that CL145A is a strain of the species P. fluorescens, and provide a phylogenetic analysis of the strain in relation to other Pseudomonas spp. We also provide evidence that the natural product lethal to dreissenids is associated with the cell wall of P. fluorescens CL145A, is a heat-labile secondary metabolite, and has degradable toxicity within 24 h when applied to water. CL145A appears to be an unusual strain of P. fluorescens since it was the only one among the ten strains tested to cause high mussel mortality. Pipe trials conducted under once-through conditions indicated: (1) P. fluorescens CL145A cells were efficacious against both zebra and quagga mussels, with high mortalities achieved against both species, and (2) as long as the total quantity of bacterial cells applied during the entire treatment period was the same, similar mussel mortality could be achieved in treatments lasting 1.5–12.0 h, with longer treatment durations achieving lower mortalities. The efficacy data presented herein, in combination with prior demonstration of its low risk of non-target impact, indicate that P. fluorescens CL145A cells have significant promise as an effective and environmentally safe control agent against these invasive mussels.