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Review

Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor Larvae) as an Alternative Protein Source for Monogastric Animal: A Review

1
Department of Animal Science, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA
2
Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3
Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, and Research Institute of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2068; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112068
Received: 30 September 2020 / Revised: 5 November 2020 / Accepted: 6 November 2020 / Published: 8 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alternatives Protein in Animal Nutrition)
Tenebrio molitor (T. molitor) larvae, known as mealworm, have been considered a good protein source for monogastric animals. They have a high quantity and quality of protein content and amino acid profile. The inclusion of T. molitor larvae in broiler diets improved the growth performance without having negative effects on carcass traits and blood profiles in broiler chickens, or had no influence on the growth performance and carcass yield of broiler chickens. The supplementation of T. molitor larvae improved the growth performance and protein utilization of weaning pigs. Furthermore, the replacement of fishmeal with T. molitor larvae resulted in no difference in the growth performance and nutrient digestibility of weaning pigs. However, there are some challenges regarding biosafety, consumer’s acceptance, and price for the use of T. moiltor larvae in animal feed. Consequently, T. molitor larvae could be used as an alternative or sustainable protein source in monogastric animal feed.
Edible insects have been used as an alternative protein source for food and animal feed, and the market size for edible insects has increased. Tenebrio molitor larvae, also known as mealworm and yellow mealworm, are considered a good protein source with nutritional value, digestibility, flavor, and a functional ability. Additionally, they are easy to breed and feed for having a stable protein content, regardless of their diets. Therefore, T. molitor larvae have been produced industrially as feed for pets, zoo animals, and even for production animals. To maintain the nutrient composition and safety of T. molitor larvae, slaughtering (heating or freezing) and post-slaughtering (drying and grinding) procedures should be improved for animal feed. T. molitor larvae are also processed with defatting or hydrolysis before grinding. They have a high quality and quantity of protein and amino acid profile, so are considered a highly sustainable protein source for replacing soybean meal or fishmeal. T. molitor has a chitin in its cuticle, which is an indigestible fiber with positive effects on the immune system. In studies of poultry, the supplementation of T. molitor larvae improved the growth performance of broiler chickens, without having negative effects on carcass traits, whereas some studies have reported that there were no significant differences in the growth performance and carcass yield of broiler chickens. In studies of swine, the supplementation of T. molitor larvae improved the growth performance and protein utilization of weaning pigs. Furthermore, 10% of T. molitor larvae showed greater amino acid digestibility than conventional animal proteins in growing pigs. However, there are some challenges regarding the biosafety, consumer’s acceptance, and price for the use of T. moiltor larvae in animal feed. Consequently, T. molitor larvae could be used as an alternative or sustainable protein source in monogastric animal feed with a consideration of the nutritional values, biosafety, consumer’s acceptance, and market price of T. molitor larvae products. View Full-Text
Keywords: alternative protein; Tenebrio molitor larvae; mealworm; pig; poultry alternative protein; Tenebrio molitor larvae; mealworm; pig; poultry
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hong, J.; Han, T.; Kim, Y.Y. Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor Larvae) as an Alternative Protein Source for Monogastric Animal: A Review. Animals 2020, 10, 2068. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112068

AMA Style

Hong J, Han T, Kim YY. Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor Larvae) as an Alternative Protein Source for Monogastric Animal: A Review. Animals. 2020; 10(11):2068. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112068

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hong, Jinsu, Taehee Han, and Yoo Y. Kim 2020. "Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor Larvae) as an Alternative Protein Source for Monogastric Animal: A Review" Animals 10, no. 11: 2068. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112068

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