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A hungry need for knowledge on the black soldier fly digestive system

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
Authors:
G. Tettamanti Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, University of Insubria, Via J. H. Dunant 3, 21100 Varese, Italy.
Interuniversity Center for Studies on Bioinspired Agro-Environmental Technology (BAT Center), University of Napoli Federico II, Via Università 100, 80055 Portici (NA), Italy.

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0665-828X
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L. Van Campenhout Research Group for Insect Production and Processing, Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems (M2S), Geel Campus, KU Leuven, Kleinhoefstraat 4, 2440 Geel, Belgium.
Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre (LFoRCe), KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 22, 3001 Leuven, Belgium.

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4920-0102
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M. Casartelli Interuniversity Center for Studies on Bioinspired Agro-Environmental Technology (BAT Center), University of Napoli Federico II, Via Università 100, 80055 Portici (NA), Italy.
Department of Biosciences, University of Milano, Via Celoria 26, 20133 Milan, Italy.

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1413-7660
Open Access

The interest towards the black soldier fly (BSF),Hermetia illucens, has grown impressively in the last few years, fostered by the legislative changes in the European landscape that have lifted the ban regarding the use of BSF larvae as feedstuff. In addition, bioconversion mediated by the larvae of the BSF is viewed as one of the most promising technologies for organic waste processing and valorisation. Finally, new, alternative applications to exploit various larval products such as lipids, chitin, antimicrobial peptides, and frass are being explored. However, this positive trend, confirmed by the increasing number of companies that deal with BSF mass rearing and processing, is in sharp contrast with the limited information on the biology of this insect, in particular on aspects related to its digestive features. This lack of knowledge needs to be carefully considered and filled in coming years, as a deep characterisation of the morphology, physiology, transcriptomics, and proteomics of the digestive system of the insect, as well a fine dissection of related aspects as gut microbiota and pathogens, is a prerequisite to improve the amazing bioconversion capabilities of this dipteron. So far, the larval stages received the most attention in research, but there might still be a lot to win by focusing more on the adult stage. Further expanding the basic knowledge on both the larval and the adult gut could lead to unexpected findings and open new perspectives to produce value-added bioproducts.

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