MAISRC in the News

DNR begins zebra mussel pilot project treatment

October 12, 2015

The Department of Natural Resources is starting to initiate pilot projects aimed at treating recently discovered, small infestations of zebra mussels on Minnesota lakes after success was shown in one test project.

The first pilot project is the treatment of Ruth Lake near Emily in Crow Wing County. The Ruth Lake infestation was confirmed in July after a young snorkeler found a single zebra mussel under a rock. Subsequent surveys of the lake revealed about two dozen zebra mussels, all in the same small area. The pilot project treatment, using the pesticide Earth Tec QZ in a 3.4-acre section of the lake, will be paid for by the Ruth Lake Improvement Association.

Pilot projects are a new process designed by the DNR and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) at the University of Minnesota.

The effective treatment of a small, isolated zebra mussel infestation in Christmas Lake in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities in April and May provided important groundwork for the new pilot project process. Shortly after the Christmas Lake infestation was confirmed, a combination of experimental, permitted pesticides was applied with the most recent dive survey Sept. 30 showing no zebra mussels in the lake.

Christmas Lake holds off zebra mussel spread

October 10, 2015

A west metro lake that’s become the testing ground for local agencies and the state of Minnesota to see if new measures will work at killing zebra mussels is holding off the invasive species.

As the boating season has come to a close, Christmas Lake hasn’t let up its efforts to keep the small lake next to Lake Minnetonka free of the aquatic invasive species after costly and groundbreaking efforts to rid the lake of mussels over the last year.

U Of M Researchers Study Nasty Parasite That Dissolves Fish

October 9, 2015

University researchers say a parasite is attacking fish in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Nick Phelps’ team at the University of Minnesota is trying to learn more about the parasite, which dissolves the muscles of fish. He says 26 lakes are known to have been infected in Minnesota since 1990, with 15 species affected.

Phelps says it’s a nasty disease, and yellow perch are some of the most commonly affected fish. He says the parasite basically destroys the filet, so you wouldn’t want to eat it. Fortunately, people aren’t known to be susceptible to this disease.

The parasite is called Heterosporis. Infected fish have the appearance of freezer burn.

Phelps says it’s not clear how it’s spreading or how prevalent it is. Fish in 16 Wisconsin lakes have also been affected.

Deadly parasite dissolving MN lake fish an urgent priority for U researchers

October 8, 2015

A gruesome parasite is killing fish in multiple lakes in Minnesota, and university researchers are urgently trying to find its cause and stop its spread.

Cases of heterosporosis have been confirmed in 26 lakes in Minnesota, affecting 15 species, since it was first reported in Lake Bemidji in 1990, according to the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

It’s been found in well-known lakes including Mille Lacs, Vermillion and Leech, plus Lake Superior.

Researchers have been working on the pathogen for several years, but concerns over its spread have now made it a high priority, particularly given its impact on “economically and ecologically important” species, including yellow perch and walleye.

The parasite has a devastating effect as it dissolves fish muscles, making it look as though the muscles have been cooked or “freezer-burned,” so any infected fish caught by anglers are not going to make much of a meal.

KARE 11 reports infection rates in affected lakes can be as high as 30 percent. It is passed by fish eating the spores or flesh from another infected fish.

“I am concerned,” researcher Nick Phelps told the TV station. “As far as diseases go, this is a nasty one,” but he added that people aren’t known to be susceptible to this disease.

Anglers have been warned to ensure their boat and equipment is cleaned if they are moving between lakes, to prevent possible spread of the parasite.

The U has said that field and lab research is underway to estimate how prevalent the disease is in Minnesota’s “important fish populations,” as well as its potential long-term impact.

Disease dissolves game fish

October 7, 2015

Heterosporis is a disease infecting game fish and hurting resort owners who keep their own fisheries.

A disease dissolving the muscles of fish could be impacting commercial fishpond owners in the state, and University of Minnesota researchers are searching for a solution.

Parasite attacking Minnesota fish

October 7, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn - Researchers at the University of Minnesota say a parasite is attacking fish in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Nick Phelps and his team of researchers are trying to find out what is causing a disease that dissolves the muscles of fish. The research is taking place at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center on the U of M campus. He said there are 26 known infected lakes in the state, with 15 species.

"Some of the most commonly affected fish are yellow perch," Phelps said. "I am concerned. As far as diseases go, this is a nasty one. People aren't known to be susceptible to this disease. The parasite basically destroys the filet and you are not going to want eat it."

For example, infected fish have the appearance of freezer burn. It is called Heterosporis. If you suspect that a fish has Heterosporis or any other disease you can report the threat, and see a list of infected lakes, here.

Currently, Phelps said it is not clear how the disease is spreading. Fish in Wisconsin have also been affected. Currently, there is no way to measure the economic impact.

"When you have lakes that have 30-percent (of the fish population) infected you can imagine how big of an impact this may have to fisherman trying to catch the fish," he said. "When you have something that liquefies tissue and you don't know a lot about the biology and the ecology of it that is cause for concern."

U of M lab mapping DNA of zebra mussels to slow spread

September 30, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Inside a University of Minnesota laboratory are two refrigerators filled with the arch invasive nemesis of Minnesota lakes.

"We've got samples of zebra mussels from all over Minnesota," says researcher Michael McCartney.

And in the freezer are extracts of DNA - the beginning of the research that one day could help wipe them out.

Researchers to try to map genome of zebra mussel

September 16, 2015

Call it the Zebe Genome Project.

University of Minnesota scientists Tuesday announced they will try to be the first in the world to map the entire genetic sequence of Dreissena polymorpha, aka the zebra mussel, the invasive mollusk spreading across waters in Minnesota and the country.

But unlike the Human Genome Project, which aspires to benefit humanity, the U's project could spell bad news for zebra mussel-kind.

"Like all species, zebra mussels have weaknesses that can be exploited for control, and we want to find those," Michael McCartney, the project's lead researcher and a professor at the University's Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, said in Tuesday's announcement. The center is teaming up with the U's Genomics Center on the effort.

Minnesota must stop the spread of invasive species in our lakes

September 10, 2015

The collapse of the walleye fishery on Mille Lacs is not an isolated incident, and is not the result of a "perfect storm." It is not even surprising. It was suggested back in 2005 when the lake became infested with zebra mussels and again in 2009 when the lake became infested with spiny waterflea.

Researchers working to combat common carp in Minnesota

September 1, 2015

Efforts to remove invasive carp from waterways across Minnesota have been ongoing for more than 100 years, but researchers say they've made strides in learning about the destructive fish over the past decade.

These days, controlling the unwanted fish is a more realistic goal. Individual fish have been found in various locations moving north in the upper Mississippi, for example. The farthest north discovery came in August 2013, when a fisherman discovered the body of a silver carp on a dam abutment near Lock and Dam 5.