Rapid evolutionary adaptation to diet composition in the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens)

Anton Gligorescu, Long Chen, Kim Jensen, Neda Nasiri Moghadam, Torsten Nygård Kristensen, Jesper Givskov Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

25 Downloads (Pure)


Genetic adaptation of Hermetia illucens (BSF) to suboptimal single sourced waste streams can open new perspectives for insect production. Here, four BSF lines were maintained on a single sourced, low-quality wheat bran diet (WB) or on a high-quality chicken feed diet (CF) for 13 generations. We continuously evaluated presumed evolutionary responses in several performance traits to rearing on the two diets. Subsequently, we tested responses to interchanged diets, i.e., of larvae that had been reared on low-quality feed and tested on high-quality feed and vice versa to evaluate costs associated with adaptation to different diets. BSF were found to experience rapid adaptation to the diet composition. While performances on the WB diet were always inferior to the CF diet, the adaptive responses were stronger to the former diet. This stronger response was likely due to stronger selection pressure experienced by BSF fed on the low-quality single sourced diet. The interchanged diet experiment found no costs associated with diet adaptation, but revealed cross generational gain associated with the parental CF diet treatment. Our results revealed that BSF can rapidly respond adaptively to diet, although the mechanisms are yet to be determined. This has potential to be utilized in commercial insect breeding to produce lines tailored to specific diets.

Translated title of the contributionHurtig evolutionær tilpasning til diætsammensætning hos den sorte soldaterflue (Hermetia illucens)
Original languageEnglish
Article number821
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • evolutionary adaptation
  • insect production
  • low-quality diets
  • single-sourced waste streams
  • trade-offs


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid evolutionary adaptation to diet composition in the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this