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Coordinatore di progetto: GIANLUCA TETTAMANTI

Insect Bioconversion: from vegetable waste to Protein production for fish Feed

In the years to come it will be mandatory to face the crucial problem of feeding the constantly increasing world population avoiding or limiting the depletion of food resources, the unsustainable exploitation and exhaustion of agricultural land and water, and the environmental pollution due to the increased waste production and greenhouse gas emission. The higher demand for human food, and more specifically foranimal proteins, requires an increasing production of feeds for livestock, poultry and aquaculture, all of which largely rely as essential additives on fish meal and fish oil. According to FAO, livestock production, that accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land use, is now expected to more than double between 2000 and 2050 (from 229 to 465 million tons); similarly, fish production and consumption has increased dramatically in the last decades and the aquaculture sector now accounts for nearly 50 percent of world fish production. Another serious concern is represented by food waste disposal: one third of all food produced globally is wasted, amounting to 1.3 billion tons per year and inadequate waste treatment in developing countries is a serious source of pollution. These critical challenges require innovative solutions and the development of novel approaches towards recognition of new biological resources, new production and consumption cycles, and new waste processing, recycling and disposal (bioeconomy). As strongly supported by FAO, insects must be considered, in addition to their use as a regular food supplement in eastern countries, as a high potential source of animal protein for feed production as well as a primary agent for organic waste reduction and bioconversion into a usable protein product. In view of these outstanding prospects for insects use, there is an urgent need to innovate the traditional, labourintensive activities in insect rearing, by adopting knowledge-intensive biotech approaches, thus providing a scientific and technological innovation in this sector. Moreover, in depth studies on how insect meal affects the final product for human consumption are necessary: even though insect meal use in aquaculture has been recently allowed in UE, this innovative protein source is still underexploited. InBioProFeed intends to contribute to the above outlined challenges, bringing together an "insect breeding and development" team and an "aquaculture technology" team with the main goal to exploit insect biotechnology tools for the management of vegetable (plant) waste and the production of a high value fish feed. The project proposes to rear larvae of the non pest black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens, well known converter of animal waste, on the vegetable biomass discarded by town vegetable wholesale markets, to gain high value protein for fish feed, while reducing waste volume. This approach is new in the panorama of the production of feeds. The interdisciplinary nature of the proponent group will be crucial for the development of the project’s aims through a fully pre-competitive approach. The expected outcomes will provide significant scientific and technological improvements, based on a deeper understanding of presently unknown aspects of H. illucens life cycle, physiology and development, essential to optimize its rearing in general, and on vegetable waste in particular. Suitability of prepupae for meal production will be assessed, and the feeding trials performed on trout will explore the effective nutritional properties of the insect-based feed. Since InBioProFeed is based on the establishment of a productive cycle going from a controlled BSF farming and vegetable waste reduction, to the preparation of a microbiologically safe insects-based meal of high nutritional quality, to feed trials in trout aquaculture, the predictable results will provide in the shortmedium term a high-value template to be exploited for aquaculture in Lombardia Region, but in the medium-long term they could positively impact on a larger scale. The Lombardia Region is leading in Italy in the biotech and aquaculture sectors, its fish production representing 13% of the total Italian production, with a value of about 30 million euros/year: InBioProFeed will increase the scientific excellence and competitiveness of the regional R&D and industrial system. Finally, the institutions involved in InBioProFeed are strongly interested in recruiting young people in this research project and will give responsibility to junior researchers within the existing staffs, providing new job positions for all the duration of the project. By working in a multidisciplinary context, young scientists will profit from mentoring, training and interaction with more experienced colleagues in an exciting area of research that will represent for them a strong background on which build their careers.
Elenco strutture
Privati - Fondazione Cariplo
CRA - Unità di ricerca di apicoltura e bachicoltura - Sede operativa di Padova

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