MAJOR RESEARCH SUCCESSES
Successful R&D Leads to Commercialization of an Environmentally Safe Biological Method for Control of Black Flies
CLOUDS OF BITING BLACK FLIES
LARVAL BLACK FLY
ADULT BLACK FLY
For decades, polluting chemical pesticides were the only tools used for controlling black flies (biting gnats in family Simuliidae). In response to the public's demand to reduce the use of these undesirable pesticides, Dan Molloy’s lab at the New York State Museum played a leading role internationally in conducting laboratory and field trials to evaluate a promising new biological control agent ‒ the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). His lab’s research efforts 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 (most commonly the commercialized product (Vectobac®) was quickly adopted as a replacement for polluting chemical control agents in the 1980s. The unprecedented safety and effectiveness of Bti to control black fly populations continues to be demonstrated today in towns throughout the Adirondack Mountains of New York and elsewhere ‒ decades after his lab’s pioneering research contributions.
Successful R&D Leads to Commercialization of an
Environmentally Safe Biological
Method for Control of Invasive Mussels
PIPE WITH ZEBRA MUSSEL INFESTATION
ZEBRA MUSSELS CAN
FORM DENSE COLONIES
The zebra mussel and its cousin the quagga mussel are the poster children for freshwater 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, a research team led by Dan Molloy at the New York State 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 lethal to these mussels, yet safe for other aquatic organisms. This bacterial strain, Pseudomonas fluorescens CL145A, was subsequently commercialized under the product name Zequanox® and is now being used to reduce zebra and quagga mussel infestations in infrastructures (e.g., power plants) and also in open waters (e.g., lakes). The development of this green control technology is a milestone event in chemical pesticide reduction and in environmental protection of our waterways.