|Tuesday, November 24|
Immunity of farmed insects: Basic and applied aspects
* Andreas Vilcinskas, Justus-Liebig University, Germany
The farming of edible insects has emerged as a promising alternative strategy for the production of protein-rich food and feed. The industrial production of insect-derived protein is more cost-effective and energy-efficient than livestock farming or aquaculture, and results in a lower ecological footprint. However, mass rearing of farmed insects and microbial contamination of their diets promote the spread pathogens and parasites. The use of antibiotics in livestock farming has been recognized as a major reason for the increasing prevalence of antibioticresistant human pathogens. The presentation aims to expand the advantages of insect farming versus livestock farming beyond economic arguments and a beneficial ecological footprint to include options enabling industrial protein production without the reliance on antibiotics. Insect possess a potent innate immune system which encompasses the synthesis of a broad spectrum of antimicrobial peptides. These immunity-related effector molecules contribute to the control of the insect gut microbiota, the sanitation of the gut prior to pupation and to self-medication. The presentation will briefly summarize our current knowledge about innate immunity in farmed insects or closely related model insects, and focus on features that are promising for the development of strategies to prevent the outbreak of infections without the application of antibiotics thereby achieving beneficial carry-over effects for the consumer. Recent insights into trans-generational immune-priming and nutritional immunology of farmed insects such as the Black soldier fly Hermetia illucens and the mealworm Tenebrio molitor will be highlighted. These findings are important to understand the role of the insect gut microbiota and its manipulation by addition of beneficial microbes to the diet. The potential use of probiotics to strengthen the pathogen resistance of farmed insects will be discussed.