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Reclamation signs research agreement to improve quagga and zebra mussel larvae detection

The Bureau of Reclamation and Fluid Imaging Technologies Inc. have signed a cooperative research and development agreement to improve the capacity and speed of Fluid Imaging Technologies' FlowCAM instrument to detect and document quagga and zebra mussel larvae in water samples.

The spread of mussels throughout the western United States has the potential to impair or interrupt water delivery and hydropower generation functions as well as create long-term ecological impacts. These mussels have the capability to attach to all water related infrastructure surfaces and clog pipes, pumps, trash racks, cooling water systems and fire suppression systems. These are all critical to the reliability of Reclamation's mission of delivering water and generating hydropower.

Over the last two years, Reclamation has been monitoring reservoirs and water bodies throughout the western United States to detect the presence of mussels at an early stage. This will not only alert Reclamation to the potential for new infestations, it will provide the necessary time to protect facilities and operations that are critical to Reclamation's mission.

The wide scope of this monitoring has created a large number of water samples for analysis. There are a number of methods available to test these samples. Two of the test methods currently used are cross-polarized microscopy and DNA analysis using polymerase chain reaction.

Cross-polarized microscopy is the most commonly used method and is highly accurate and reliable but can be labor intensive. DNA analysis using polymerase chain reaction is also relatively common providing absolute confirmation or presence/absence but does not provide numerical count data to determine relative degree of infestation.

Fluid Imaging Technologies' FlowCAM instrument has the capacity for automated detection and quantification of quagga and zebra mussel larvae. Comparing this device to the traditional cross-polarized microscopy, it has the potential to provide automated sample processing and photography of individual particles if additional analysis is necessary.


Contact: Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation

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