Entec Nutrition will be joining the Insect Doctors network as an industrial partner, to help train promising young scientists to manage disease in commercial insect production systems.
With the world waking up to the wide-ranging benefits of utilising insects as a ‘future food’ for both human and animal nutrition, the commercial rearing of edible insects is set to become a big business. However, as in any production system which involves the mass rearing of animals the potential for disease outbreak is always a risk. Insect rearing is no different, and the emergence of pathogens (disease causing microorganisms) within insect populations can quickly lead to widespread fatalities and extensive economic losses. In order to remain sustainable, cost-effective and viable, insect production urgently needs to become more resilient to the threats of pathogens, including bacteria, fungi and viruses.
The Insect Doctors network is set to address this challenge by funding 15 PhD studentships for promising young scientists, providing them with the in-depth knowledge, technical skills and tools needed to diagnose and prevent disease outbreaks in commercial insect rearing facilities. Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme the project will encourage international collaboration and mobility, with the students training at universities in two non-residing countries. The Insect Doctors network will facilitate close interaction between the academic and industrial sectors, and each student will receive training from at least two industry partners.
Entec Nutrition were selected as an industry partner to lend their expertise and provide training, alongside global leaders in insect production such as Ynsect and Protifarm.
Dr Olivia Champion and Prof. Richard Titball the co-founders of Entec Nutrition are well recognised in the field of molecular bacteriology and microbiology, with experience in researching food-borne pathogens and a background in commercial insect rearing. Speaking of the opportunity to participate, Olivia said “We are delighted that Entec Nutrition are an industrial partner on the Insect Doctors programme. We look forward to working alongside our academic and industrial partners in Europe to train up the next generation of scientists with expertise in producing insects for food and feed.” The PhD projects will cover a wide range of themes including identifying triggers for disease outbreaks, understanding how to detect pathogens to prevent disease outbreaks, and investigating how adapting nutrition can help insects to stay resistant to disease.