Animal Sciences

Implementation of Genomic Selection in insect breeding programs
Genetic Improvement of Black soldier fly
With increasing urban population, waste management is a serious global issue nowadays in terms of collecting, transferring, disposing and storing. Despite some important efforts, the biowaste mostly end up in a landfill site which causes dangerous problem for the environment like atmospheric effects and toxic gas emitting, contamination of underground waters, and health effects for the people who living next to landfill areas.

A profitable and sustainable strategy to both create values from biowastes and contribute to producing high quality proteins is to use insects. Due to its ability to feed on a wide range of organic waste, the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) has emerged as the most important candidate for bioconversion. The larvae of this fly are not only natural recyclers of organic waste, but mainly the producers of protein, fat and other important bioactive substances such as chitin and melanin. The final product of insect farming is the larvae, that has 40-60% protein with balanced amino acids composition and that is processed as feed of pig, poultry and aquaculture. Processed larvae produce also pharmaceutical molecules such as chitin, lauric acid, and several antimicrobial peptides which improve immunity, nutrient absorption and growth rate of animals.

In this project, some breeding program methods that have been industrially proven for poultry (pure line crossing for hybrids) and genomic-based evaluation and selection in other livestock species are optimizing in the BSF. We are developing some trait-specific lines (growth/production/function). To do this, quantitative genetics theory, genomic selection and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing are applied to make genetic improvement in pure line level. The genetically modified lines will be integrated in the "pure-line-crossing" program in which the final product (eggs/larvae) will benefit from "heterosis", "line complementary" phenomena and "gene editing" technology.
Funded by:- Skoltech Translational Research and Innovation Program.
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