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Tenebrio (Tenebrio molitor) in poultry diets: nutraceutical properties, digestibility and performance

Grant number: 17/05423-8
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: October 01, 2017 - December 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Animal Husbandry
Principal Investigator:José Fernando Machado Menten
Grantee:José Fernando Machado Menten
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Débora Botéquio Moretti ; Raul Machado Neto ; Thiago de Araújo Mastrangelo


The use of insects on the animal industry is a promising alternative because it combines nutritive value, nutraceutical proprieties (antimicrobial peptides), efficient breeding systems and more sustainable since it requires less water, space and uses by-products as substrate. Moreover, the insect's antimicrobial peptides are effective against many pathogens and, also they act on the modulation of the immune response and because of it, is becoming notorious. Chickens have the natural behavior of feeding themselves from a variety of insects during their entire lifecycle and the entomophagy can represent more than 30% of all the ingested food. Even so, at the present, information about the effects of mealworm and their antimicrobial peptides in diets of broiler poultry on growth, digestibility, intestinal health and immune modulation are scarce and limited, mainly in Brazil which stands on world rankings of poultry production and exportation. Among the 2000 species of edible insects all the known, the tenebrio (Tenebrio molitor) occupies a prominent position due the wide distribution in Brazil and around the world, easily handled and farmed, high feed efficiency, requires 20% of crude protein, are capable of utilizing animal and vegetable waste products, and produces four different types of antimicrobial peptides (Tenecins 1, 2, 3 and 4), effective against Gram negative and positive bacterias as well this antimicrobial can modulate immune response. At the end of 4-5 months of rearing, tenebrios end up with body protein content between 47 - 60%. On the above, the aim of this study is to investigate the effects of the tenebrio mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) in broiler poultry diets from 1 to 42 days. The feeding trial will be conducted at Animal Science Department of University of São Paulo - Esalq/USP, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil. This research are divided in three approaches of using mealworm in poultry diets: a) ingredient preference and feed intake (experiment 1), b) mealworm nutrients and amino acids digestibility (experiment 2), c) growth performance and nutraceutical properties on the intestinal health and immunity of broilers. The feeding behavior among mealworm, soybean and corn meal will be investigate in order to establish the amount of Tenebrio consumed by the broiler. Following, the conventional and ileal digestibility of mealworm nutrients will quantified. Finally, a feeding trial will be performed to evaluate de growth performance with different mealworm inclusion levels and, simultaneously to this a LPS - challenge experiment will carried out. Blood and intestine samples will be collected in order to analyze intestinal microbiota profile, lysozyme activity, superoxide dismutase activity, hemolytic activity of complement system and in vitro bactericide activity. Finally, the research findings will provide a scientific framework to rise the discussion on the use of mealworm on broiler poultry in Brazil. (AU)