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Research :: CAMBRIDGE FIELD RESEARCH LABORATORY :: Major Research Successes

Major Research Successes - Dr. Daniel P. Molloy (Principal Investigator)

Black Fly

Successful Development of an Environmentally Safe Black Fly Control Method

For decades following World War II, polluting chemical pesticides were the only tools used for controlling black flies, both in New York State and elsewhere in the world.  In response to the public's demand (particularly in the Adirondack Mountains of New York) to eliminate the use of these undesirable pesticides, the NYS Museum launched an intensive search for an environmentally safe black fly control method.  As part of their research efforts, scientists at the NYS Museum's Cambridge Field Research Laboratory conducted pioneering laboratory and field trials to evaluate a promising new biological control agent -- the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti).  Their comprehensive research efforts gained international attention and demonstrated Bti to be both very effective in controlling black fly larvae as well as having extraordinary environmental safety.  These experiments, in combination with those performed by scientific colleagues elsewhere, were landmark in their impact as Bti was quickly adopted as a replacement for polluting chemical control agents throughout New York State and elsewhere in North America.  The unprecedented safety and effectiveness of Bti to control black fly populations continues to be demonstrated today - decades after the Museum's initial research efforts.

Zebra Mussels in Pipe

Successful Development of an Environmentally Safe Control Method for Invasive Dreissenid Mussels

Zebra and quagga mussels are the poster child for aquatic invasive species in North America.  First observed in the Great Lakes in the 1980s, they quickly spread to other inland water bodies, fouling water intake pipes and causing ecological disruption in rivers and lakes along the way.  Responding to a request from New York's electric power generation industry for the development of an environmentally safe method for controlling these mussels, scientists at the NYS Museum's Cambridge Field Research Laboratory launched a program to find a highly selective biological control agent.  Their efforts were successful when they discovered a naturally occurring bacterium with a cellular byproduct that was lethal to these mussels, yet safe for other aquatic organisms.  This bacterial strain, Pseudomonas fluorescens CL145A, has proven itself successful in experiments funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to control mussel infestations in power plant pipes (PDF 220 kb).  Product availability under the commercial name ZequanoxTM is expected in 2011.  Power plants and other mussel-infested infrastructures will finally have a safer, alternative method to manage mussel infestations in their facilities.  The development of this green control technology is a milestone event in chemical pesticide reduction and in environmental protection of our waterways.



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