Mexilhão-dourado (Golden mussel)

June 06, 2021


  • The golden mussel is among the three species that compete for the title of most harmful invader to Brazilian environments, according to the Ministry of Environment
  • It arrived in South America in the 1990s, through the estuary of the Rio da Prata, in the ballast water of cargo ships
  • In Brazil, it is present in 38% of the Hydropower Plants, whose combined installed power represents 55% of the total of this source in the national electrical matrix
  • The mollusk reaches densities of up to 200,000 individuals/m², promoting the blocking of grids, pipes and heat exchangers in HPPs
  • Estimated annual losses of US$ 120 million.

Combat Methods Evaluated / under evaluation


Genetic Modification Study

CTG Brasil started in 2017, through the Aneel R&D Program, the development of a radically different and definitive biotechnological strategy – using synthetic biology techniques to alter the genetic information contained in the genome of the invasive mussel to make its reproductive capacity impossible.
The expected result is a genetically modified (GM) golden mussel, which, when breeding with wild mussels in HPP reservoirs, will rapidly transmit infertility to the next generations, which will reduce the species’ populations.
This long-term technological route is analogous to that successfully adopted by other scientists to create genetically modified mosquitoes to combat dengue, zika and malaria.


Steps – General

The project is in phase III of a program with sequential and parallel developments, whose objective is to develop a genetically modified organism that, when reproducing with wild individuals, will rapidly transmit infertility to the next generations

Phase III – Steps

SWP1: synthetic biology

  • Reproduction and implementation of molecular / cellular processes
  • Genetically modified mussels with CRISPR-Cas9 allele and demonstration of target gene haploinsufficiency
  • Construction of the mesocosm laboratory prototype

SWP2: identification of infestation severity

  • Identification of methods to define infestation severity
  • Selection and validation of research method

SWP3: ecological modeling

  • Development of an ecological model of population dynamics and supermendelian inheritance
  • Design, construction and aquatic animal testing in mussel cultivation

SWP4: grip lock

  • Identification and characterization of adhesion genes
  • Identification of target genes
  • Molecular and phenotype validation of target genes

Value: R$ 1,985,855.51
Cooperated: CTG Brasil, Tijoá
Executed by: USP
Duration: 36 months

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