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PLoS One. 2017 Aug 3;12(8):e0182533. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182533. eCollection 2017.

A survey of the mycobiota associated with larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) reared for feed production.

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Department of Biosciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Pediatric Clinical Research Center Romeo and Enrica Invernizzi, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Department of Crop Protection, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.
Department of Applied Biosciences, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences-Production, Landscape, Agroenergy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


Feed security, feed quality and issues surrounding the safety of raw materials are always of interest to all livestock farmers, feed manufacturers and competent authorities. These concerns are even more important when alternative feed ingredients, new product developments and innovative feeding trends, like insect-meals, are considered. The black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is considered a good candidate to be used as feed ingredient for aquaculture and other farm animals, mainly as an alternative protein source. Data on transfer of contaminants from different substrates to the insects, as well as the possible occurrence of toxin-producing fungi in the gut of non-processed insects are very limited. Accordingly, we investigated the impact of the substrate/diet on the intestinal mycobiota of H. illucens larvae using culture-dependent approaches (microbiological analyses, molecular identification through the typing of isolates and the sequencing of the 26S rRNA D1/D2 domain) and amplicon-based next-generation sequencing (454 pyrosequencing). We fed five groups of H. illucens larvae at the third growing stage on two substrates: chicken feed and/or vegetable waste, provided at different timings. The obtained results indicated that Pichia was the most abundant genus associated with the larvae fed on vegetable waste, whereas Trichosporon, Rhodotorula and Geotrichum were the most abundant genera in the larvae fed on chicken feed only. Differences in the fungal communities were highlighted, suggesting that the type of substrate selects diverse yeast and mold genera, in particular vegetable waste is associated with a greater diversity of fungal species compared to chicken feed only. A further confirmation of the significant influence of diet on the mycobiota is the fact that no operational taxonomic unit common to all groups of larvae was detected. Finally, the killer phenotype of isolated yeasts was tested, showing the inhibitory activity of just one species against sensitive strains, out of the 11 tested species.

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