Quagga and zebra mussel (2020) – environmental DNA

Simple, sensitive and species-specific assays for detecting quagga and zebra mussels (Dreissena rostiformis bugensis and D. polymorpha) using environmental DNA.

© Sergey E. Mastitsky

This study investigated the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) as part of surveillance and monitoring schemes in detecting the presence of two species of invasive non-native freshwater mussel; namely quagga mussel (Dreissena rostiformis bugensis) and zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), collectively referred to as Dreissenid mussels. Species-specific sequences were selected for identification purposes.

In situ trials revealed D. r. bugensis eDNA was found in 100% of water samples taken from sites in the River Wraysbury catchment. In addition, eDNA of D. polymorpha was found in 77% of water samples in the River Welland catchment, despite individuals being seen in only one site.

The use and popularity of eDNA has grown since the beginning of the 21st century, and now presents a novel method for capturing the presence of invasive non-native species in previously unknown or lesser sampled locations.


Blackman, R.C., Benucci, M., Donnelly, R.C., Hänfling, B., Harper, L.R., Sellers, G.S. and Lawson Handley, L. (2020). Simple, sensitive and species-specific assays for detecting quagga and zebra mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis and D. polymorpha) using environmental DNA. Management of Biological Invasions 11(2): pg. 218–236.

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Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland