PAYNESVILLE, Minn. (AP) — Researchers have turned a Minnesota lake into a giant laboratory to study invasive plants.

The Koronis Lake Association has spent $500,000 on a pilot project at Lake Koronis to address starry stonewort.

The invasive plant was first found in Minnesota in Lake Koronis in 2015 but has since spread to 13 Minnesota lakes. The plant is a bright green macro-algae that can choke out native plants and fish habitat, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Cleaning boats and trailers can help stop the spread of the invasive plant and early detection is important, the association said. The group also uses a weed puller to rip the plants out at the root in the shallow water or chop the plants off in deeper water.

Researchers hope to learn more about the species' biology, how it impacts areas and how to manage it, said Dan Larkin, who's with the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

The state Legislature has set aside $10 million a year to fight invasive species.