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New DNA technology could prevent aquatic invasive species

Posted at 8:19 AM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 10:19:53-05

KALISPELL – Biologists at the University of Montana have new technology that could prevent millions of dollars in damage due to aquatic invasive species.

Professor Gordon Luikart tells MTN that in 2016 trace amounts of zebra mussels were found in the Tiber Reservoir which almost infested Flathead Lake.

Fortunately, the University of Montana has new technology that could prevent an infestation. Sponsored by NASA, the university has the first national DNA database for aquatic invasive species.

Using computer technology, trace amounts of mussel DNA can be found, targeted and destroyed before the mussels take over an ecosystem. The database stores the DNA so scientists from other states can access and study it.

“Like cancer in a human body, if you can detect an invasive species in a water body early you can have hope of eradicating and suppressing it and preventing it from spreading throughout the water body and then to other water bodies,” said Luikart.

Luikart said in six months the university will launch an app where folks can take pictures of unfamiliar mussels and upload them for a scientist to examine.

By Maren Siu – MTN News