- 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