Next Article in Journal
Pregnancy and Litter Size, But Not Lamb Sex, Affect Feed Intake and Wool Production by Merino-Type Ewes
Next Article in Special Issue
Species-Specific Discrimination of Insect Meals for Aquafeeds by Direct Comparison of Tandem Mass Spectra
Previous Article in Journal
Comparative Grain Chemical Composition, Ruminal Degradation In Vivo, and Intestinal Digestibility In Vitro of Vicia Sativa L. Varieties Grown on the Tibetan Plateau
Previous Article in Special Issue
A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Insects in Feed on Poultry Growth Performances
Article Menu
Issue 5 (May) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Gut Microbiota and Mucin Composition in Female Broiler Chickens Fed Diets including Yellow Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, L.)

Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Turin, Largo Paolo Braccini 2, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Turin, Largo Paolo Braccini 2, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Institute of Science of Food Production, National Research Council, Largo Paolo Braccini 2, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 213;
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 23 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 3 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects: Alternative Protein Source for Animal Feed)
PDF [2014 KB, uploaded 3 May 2019]

Simple Summary

Gut health evaluation is a topic of great research interest in animal production, since the intestinal features (such as the microbiota and the mucin composition, as well as the mucosal morphology) are usually diet dependent, thus also directly influencing the growth performance of the animals. Insects are currently considered a novel, promising alternative protein source for animal feeding due to their remarkable nutritional properties, low competitiveness with human food and environmental implications, but data regarding the gut health of insect-fed animals are still very limited. We herein demonstrated that yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, TM) meal utilization at low inclusion rates (5%) represents the most feasible alternative in terms of gut microbiota characteristics (identification of a phylum profile with better feed digestion and higher capacity of harvesting) and mucin dynamics (higher mucin production) in broiler chickens.


A total of 160 female broiler chickens were divided into four dietary treatments (control feed [C] and 5, 10 and 15% TM meal inclusion, respectively, with five replicate pens/treatment and eight birds/pen) to investigate the effects of Tenebrio molitor (TM) meal utilization on poultry gut microbiota and mucin composition. The cecal microbiota assessment displayed a shift in the beta diversity in chickens fed TM-based diets. The TM10 and TM15 birds showed a significant decrease in the relative abundance of Firmicutes phylum and lower Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratios (False Discovery Rate [FDR] < 0.05), respectively, than the TM5 group. The relative abundance of Clostridium, Alistipes and Sutterella genera significantly increased in TM chickens (FDR < 0.05), while birds fed TM-based diets displayed a significant decrease in the relative abundance of Ruminococcus genus in comparison with the C group (FDR < 0.05). Gut mucin composition evaluation revealed higher mucin staining intensity in the intestinal villi of TM5 birds than the other TM groups, as well as mucin reduction in the intestinal villi of TM10 birds when compared to the C group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, dietary TM meal utilization (especially the 10–15% inclusion levels) may negatively influence either the cecal microbiota or the intestinal mucin dynamics of broiler chickens. View Full-Text
Keywords: insect meal; microbiota; mucin; insect meal insect meal; microbiota; mucin; insect meal

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material


Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Biasato, I.; Ferrocino, I.; Grego, E.; Dabbou, S.; Gai, F.; Gasco, L.; Cocolin, L.; Capucchio, M.T.; Schiavone, A. Gut Microbiota and Mucin Composition in Female Broiler Chickens Fed Diets including Yellow Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, L.). Animals 2019, 9, 213.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top