Tomorrow never dies: biodegradation and subsequent viability of invasive macrophytes following exposure to aquatic disinfectants.
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 broadspectrum 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 invasive macrophytes: Crassula helmsii (Kirk) Cockayne; Egeria densa Planchon; Elodea canadensis 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 submergence treatments of five, fifteen, thirty or sixty minutes. After 28 days, degradation of treated fragments was significantly greater than that of control groups, particularly for 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 to all 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.