Another Great MS Thesis on The Black Soldier Fly: Improving Feeding Efficiencies of BSF Larvae Through Manipulation of Feeding Conditions
I enjoy reading research papers published by established colleagues and friends throughout the world. But (no offense to my colleagues), my excitement for their work pales in comparison to reading theses or dissertations of students. Their work demonstrates the promise such individuals have to the industry as a whole.
I guess some could say it is a compliment to my established colleagues that I find their students' work so exciting. These individuals (the students) invest so much to conduct the research and organize it into a coherent story for us to read.
So much promise- so much potential!
Of course, none of it would be possible without the guidance of the advisor - so many thanks to you as well for your hard work and dedication.
The MS thesis I would like to review today is by a friend and colleague- Devon Brits who is currently seeking his PhD at Louisiana State University (love your dedication, Devon).
I believe the thesis is accessible at the following link:
Improving feeding efficiencies of black soldier fly larvae, Hermetia illucens (L., 1758) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae: Hermetiinae) through manipulation of feeding conditions for industrial mass rearing
The thesis has five chapters. The first is the literature review and the last is the conclusion. So, Devon completed three research projects for his MS (quite impressive).
Chapter 2 examined the impact of food availability, feeding depth, and particle size on the development and feeding efficiency of the BSF larvae. All factors were found to impact BSF larval development. Feeding depth less than 10 cm was optimal for feed conversion; however, larvae developed significantly faster when feed at a depth < 5 cm. The impact of particle size was variable. But, I think it is important to know such work is critical for mass production. How should feed be prepared and provided? Particle size surely has an impact as surface area dictates access to the feed.
Chapter 3 examined the impact of feed rate at a set density on BSF mass-rearing. Basically larvae should have access to 125-200 mg/larva/day. Such results would of course be population specific. Furthermore, feed type will have an impact on the development of BSF larvae as well. One thing noted in the chapter is the need to carry this work to the next stage. If larval size is impacted by feed rate and feed quality, what is the impact on resulting adults and their mating success?
Chapter 4 examined different larval densities (scale) on feed conversion. This experiment is really nice as the larval number ranged from 5 to 50,000 per replicate/treatment (yes, you read that correctly). Feed was provided at 2.12g/larva (feeding was done twice during the experiment). Major finding relate to mortality being high during initial two instars (something to think about). Data generated for lower density were consistent with previously published work. But, as the density increased to more industrial scale, data were quite different- for example, bioconversion rates were slightly higher.
These data call into question the value of bench top versus industrial scale research. I highly recommend students to consider integrating industrial scale work with their bench top studies (or vice versa) as both data types are crucial for industrial development.
Overall: Great job, Devon. Very impressive work and a serious contribution to the BSF community. I encourage everyone to take a look at his work and cite it in your research- it is quite valuable!
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Open to Assisting Students with the Work
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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