Breeding Black Soldier Fly for healthier and sustainable aquaculture feed

The aim of this project is to understand the genetic variation of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) and use this knowledge to breed a healthy, efficient, high performing population and improve the production and nutritional quality of BSF.

Insect-based conversion of low-grade organic waste streams into high-value protein for animal feed is an efficient part of circular food production. Insects are even a source of bioactive compounds, such as anti-microbial peptides and lauric acids, which can have health benefits on livestock and aquaculture when used in animal feed, and hence reduce the need for antibiotics. To breed healthy, viable and productive insect populations, lessons learned in the fields of livestock, aquaculture and plant breeding can be utilised. However, information on genetic diversity, genetic variation and unfavourable correlations between important traits for insect production is mostly lacking. To consolidate the role and applicability of BSF in organic waste stream conversion into a nutritious product with optimal health benefits, knowledge on how genetic variation links to production, product quality and fitness-related traits is needed.

We will develop phenotyping protocols to measure variation between sib families in important BSF production, fitness and product quality traits (WP1); investigate the genetic diversity and selection signatures of a commercial BSF population (WP2); estimate genetic parameters of traits relevant for BSF production to set up a breeding programme, and design a sustainable breeding programme ensuring healthy BSF populations (WP3); and assess health and production benefits of BSF as aquafeed (WP4).

Strong consortium

The project is a cooperation of two insect rearing companies (Bestico and Bio Cycle) with detailed knowledge of BSF production; a biotechnology company with knowledge of measuring detailed fat and protein composition of BSF (Bio-aNAlytiX van Biezen); an expert in transforming waste product to sustainable animal feed (Feedura); a testing facility with shrimp ponds (KHARISMA TRINITAS INDONESIA); and the knowledge institute (Wageningen Livestock Research) with experts in the field of breeding and genomics, as well as phenotyping and animal nutrition. Positive results can directly be valorised by the industry partners to create a sustainable productive population and include the insect product in animal feed.