Tomorrow Never Dies: biodegradation and subsequent viability of invasive macrophytes following exposure to aquatic disinfectants

Kate Crane, Ross Cuthbert, Eoghan Cunningham, Stephanie J. Bradbeer, Lawrence Eagling, Louise Kregting, Jaimie Thomas Allan Dick, Alison M Dunning, Emily R.C. Smith, Caitriona Shannon, Joe Caffrey, Frances E. Lucy, Eithne Davis, Neil Coughlan

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Aquatic invasive alien species (IAS) negatively impact freshwater ecosystems worldwide. As suppression and eradication of established invader populations are often complex, costly and resource-intensive, the prevention of further invader spread is considered a key aspect of proactive management measures. Although broad spectrum aquatic disinfectants have been suggested as a suitable decontamination mechanism to enhance invader spread-prevention strategies, inconsistencies concerning their effectiveness are reported within the literature. Here, we examine the use of two aquatic disinfectants, which were developed to kill damaging microbes, to induce substantial degradation of the apical fragmentary propagules of five invasivemacrophytes: Crassula helmsii (Kirk) Cockayne; Egeria densa Planchon; Elodeacanadensis Michx; Hydrocotyle ranunculoides Linnaeus; Lagarosiphon major(Ridley) Moss. Apical fragments were exposed to 0% (0 g L-1), 2% (20 g L-1) or 4%(40 g L-1) solutions of Virkon® Aquatic and Virasure® Aquatic, for submergencetreatments of five, fifteen, thirty or sixty minutes. After 28 days, degradation of treated fragments was significantly greater than that of control groups, particularlyfor 4% solutions and longer exposure times. Despite this, sustained viability in relation to shoot and/or root regrowth was exhibited by almost all plant species.However, new shoot growth rates were significantly reduced following exposure toall treatments. At matched concentrations, there was no significant difference between the two disinfectants. Overall, it appears that the examined aquatic disinfectants will not curtail the spread of these invasive macrophytes. Yet, longer submergence times, multiple applications and synergistic effects of different biosecurity treatments may enhance preventative measures against further spread and this requires investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-43
JournalManagement of Biological Invasions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2020


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