Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Attacking Zebra Mussels

A new approach to attacking invasive species, according to Science News. Chemists and zoologists at the University of Cambridge have invented an approach to reducing the number of Zebra Mussels in locations like water supply pipes where they're an expensive nuisance. The twin problems with attacking filter feeders are that they shut down their feeding when they detect toxins, and that high levels of toxin will likely afffect other organisms. In this case, they coated small particles of a toxic substance (potassium chloride) in a benign and degradable coating (vegetable oil and soap). Filter feeders accept and concentrate the particles, and are eventually poisoned. The coating degrades in a couple of hours, and once dispersed, potassium chloride (sometimes used as a salt substitute) is relatively harmless.

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