Of maggots and microbes
The global demand for food increases, yet still a lot of food is lost or wasted. Larvae of the black soldier fly can feed on organic residues and convert these into edible insect protein for animal feed and provide a possible solution to both issues. Stijn Schreven discovered that microbes in the organic residues have a big impact on the growth of larvae and the microbial community inside the larva. Larvae also influenced the community of microbes in the residues, and thus may improve their microbial safety. The transfer of larvae from a nursery diet to a waste substrate – common practice in the industry – likely disturbs the microbial community in the larvae and may affect their health. Knowledge on the resilience of the microbial community and its key players and functions, will help improve insect health, microbial safety, and eventually the potential of this insect as animal feed.