What Zebra mussels can teach us about combatting invasive species, developing sustainable materials

Published: 17 January 2024

A recent study from researchers in Canada and Germany has revealed that an unlikely event, occurring over 12 million years ago played an important role in shaping one of Canada’s most damaging invasive species. Zebra and quagga mussels, belonging to the Dreissenid family, are widespread freshwater invasive species throughout North America that present a significant danger to native ecosystems by competing for resources. Using a fibrous anchor called a byssus, Dreissenid mussels contribute to biofouling on surfaces and obstruct intake structures in power stations and water treatment plants. “This new study, which looks into the way these mussels stick to surfaces, may help improve strategies against biofouling, a problem causing millions in damages in Canada alone,” said co-author and lead McGill Professor, Matthew Harrington. The study also sheds light on how mussel fibres could inspire the development of sustainable materials.

About this study

Invasive mussels fashion silk-like byssus via mechanical processing of massive horizontally acquired coiled coils” by Matthew Harrington et al., was published in PNAS.

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