The success of the BSF selective breeding program “gives us about 4 years ahead of the competition”

A joint project between this Dutch insect producer and Hendrix Genetics, the companies said their program is the first to demonstrate that black soldier fly (BSF) genetically selected for increased larval weight outperforms standard BSF larvae. in a full-scale production facility.

The project was first announced in 2018. Two years after the start of the program, the partners launched a full-scale, fully automated production trial at Protix’s production facilities in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands. .

The results were 39% heavier larvae, 32% more protein harvested per rig and 21% more fat harvested per rig, Protix said. Based on this result, the annual production improvement is estimated at 20 percent, he added.

Larger larvae from the BSF selective breeding project. © Protix

“It is therefore possible to produce more with the same energy. Making insect protein even more attractive from a sustainability perspective.

Eric Schmitt, director of R&D at Protix, told FeedNavigator that initially the team wanted to have clear evidence that it was possible to improve BSF larvae through selection and ensure long-term progress. term. “We wanted to learn how to do it effectively, so we could deploy a major program.”

What were the desirable qualities of the BSF for which the program was selected? “We started by selecting animals that grow faster and get bigger.

When asked if the program had fully achieved its goals, Schmitt said: “Yes, not only have we been able to show that selection is possible, but we have already achieved a significant improvement.

Protix and Hendrix Genetics continue to leverage the insights generated to expand the breeding program. “We believe that over the next three years we can make transformational changes in the way BSF selection is done for industrial applications.”

And it’s quite remarkable, Schmitt noted, that while the partners are already reporting successful results from their alliance, other industry initiatives related to insect genetic improvement are just beginning. “That gives us about four years ahead of the competition.”

Protix owns the newly developed line. Will BSF genetically selected for larval weight increase be sold to other insect ingredient producers?

“Protix believes that improved animals offer the industry an important tool to improve the economy and sustainability of production. We already sell unimproved animals commercially and are currently exploring ways to provide improved animals to our customers while protecting our intellectual property.”

Efficiency in waste management

The program’s implications go beyond BSF’s production, Schmitt added.

protix factory 2
Protix factory in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands. © Protix

“Because BSF can use low-grade organic materials as feed and return it directly to the food chain, they have the potential to significantly improve waste management efficiency, feed sustainability and food, plant nutrition and food safety.

“We have shown that with genetic improvement, BSFs can be significantly more efficient, which means they will be better able to play this supporting role for others in the industry looking for alternatives. durable. Additionally, the beauty of selective breeding is its cumulative nature, where year after year we will see further improvements. So this is just the beginning.”

The results of the selective breeding project were presented for the first time at Insecta2021.