Scientists Meet Scientists – Wednesday Coffee Talk by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Windisch on “Dry Food for Superfood Producers – International Study Investigates Nutritional Behaviour of Insects”


On December 16th, Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Windisch (TUM School of Life Sciences) will give a talk entitled “Dry Food for Superfood Producers – International Study Investigates Nutritional Behaviour of Insects”. Given that they generate hardly any greenhouse gases, are undemanding, nutritious and fast growing, insects have generated a lot of hype in recent years. They are touted as the superfood of the future – cheap suppliers of protein that can even decompose all kinds of residual products. Professor Windisch and his team have now explored what kind of feedstuffs might be suitable for environmentally friendly factory farming of insects.

In the wild, both grasshoppers and crickets feed on leaves. But as supplying large insects farms with fresh greens is virtually impossible to implement, one needs feed of verifiable quality and safety that can be dried, stored and transported. The scientists tested different dry feed variants containing cornstarch, protein and fibre-rich cowpea leaves, protein-rich soy extract and vitamin-enriched carrot powder. The results showed immense species-specific differences. Locusts, for example, can process plant fibres that are indigestible by humans whereas crickets, on the other hand, excrete fibre-rich food. Locusts grow quickly only when fed protein, while crickets need starch, above all.

In their next project, Professor Windisch and his team hope to investigate which enzymes are active in the intestines of various insects and which of them can convert plant fibre into glucose (TUM press release).

Publication

Straub, P., Tanga, C. M., Osuga, I., Windisch, W., Subramanian, S.: „Experimental feeding studies with crickets and locusts on the use of feed mixtures composed of storable feed materials commonly used in livestock production”, Animal Feed Science and Technology 255 (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2019.114215.

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