Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 74952

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Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre Agriculture and Environment, Sericulture Laboratory, 35143 Padova, Italy
Interests: sericulture; silkworm artificial diet; silkworm strain preservation and genetic improvement; silkworm pathology; silkworm rearing techniques and biotechnologies; silkworm for human and animal food/feeding

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Guest Editor
Department of Biosciences, University of Milan, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: insect midgut physiology; insect biotechnology; silkworm as a model to study tissue remodeling during insect metamorphosis and mode of action of insecticidal molecules isolated from insect natural enemies; silkworm for human and animal food/feeding

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Guest Editor
Department of Biology, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy
Interests: insect biotechnology; insect immune response; silkworm antimicrobial peptides (AMPs); insect circadian rhythms

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Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre Agriculture and Environment, Sericulture Laboratory, 35143 Padova, Italy
Interests: sericulture; silkworm genetics and biotechnologies; silkworm microbiology; pre and probiotics; silkworm microbiota; silkworm artificial diet; insects as feed/food; silkworm transgenesis

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Guest Editor
Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, University of Insubria, 21100 Varese, Italy
Interests: insect biotechnology; cell death and regeneration mechanisms in the silkworm; silkworm infection model; insect immune response; insect-mediated bioconversion of organic waste

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The silkworm, Bombyx mori, has been intensively studied since time immemorial because of its economic relevance to silk production; on the other hand, with this insect being completely domesticated, the duration and any parameters of its development can be fully controlled by regulating environmental conditions. For this reason, this insect has been increasingly becoming a useful and suitable laboratory tool for research in genetics, physiology, animal nutrition, medicine, science of materials, chemistry, etc., just to mention some of the multiple application fields. Moreover, advances related to this insect have been accelerated by the sequencing of its genome. This impressive growth of knowledge related to the silkworm has encouraged the proliferation of sericultural advances described in scientific journals dealing with different topics. Therefore, there is a need to focus again on the unity of the sericultural sciences as a group of disciplines, with the silkworm as a binding element. The scope of this Special Issue is to give a comprehensive overview of the fields and applications for which the silkworm can be exploited, and even to reinforce the link between traditional sericulture and new technological horizons. In fact, silkworm rearing techniques and preservation, strain selection and maintenance, which represent the traditional activities, are the starting basis for any innovative application. In light of these considerations, the final purpose of this Special Issue is to establish a virtual dialogue between traditional sericulture and new trends in silkworm and silk valorization.

We would like to invite a) sericulturists dealing with traditional or new applications of sericulture and b) scientists involved in research on the silkworm as a biological model, or B. mori silk as a new material, to contribute to this issue with original research, reviews, or perspective articles focusing on how sericulture can contribute to the development of science, society, medicine, the environment, and economics. Any topics related to molecular, physiological, behavioral, environmental, social, historical, and other aspects of sericulture are welcome, as are reviews attempting to unify different research topics under comprehensive trends for future development.

Dr. Silvia Cappellozza
Prof. Dr. Morena Casartelli
Prof. Dr. Federica Sandrelli
Dr. Alessio Saviane
Prof. Dr. Gianluca Tettamanti
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • genetics
  • silkworm physiology
  • silkworm pathology
  • biotechnologies applied to sericulture
  • silk utilisation and novel applications
  • biological model
  • sericultural practices
  • environmental indicator
  • silkworm as food and feed
  • precision sericulture
  • history of sericulture

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 193 KiB  
Editorial
Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications
by Silvia Cappellozza, Morena Casartelli, Federica Sandrelli, Alessio Saviane and Gianluca Tettamanti
Insects 2022, 13(11), 1016; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13111016 - 3 Nov 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2344
Abstract
The various subjects covered in the present Special Issue “Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications” demonstrate how sericulture, a practice deeply rooted in human history, can act as a bridge to bring together an exceptionally wide range of scientific and technical expertise [...] Read more.
The various subjects covered in the present Special Issue “Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications” demonstrate how sericulture, a practice deeply rooted in human history, can act as a bridge to bring together an exceptionally wide range of scientific and technical expertise in both conventional topics and cutting-edge technologies [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)

Research

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30 pages, 3474 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Feeding with Central European Local Mulberry Genotypes on the Development and Health Status of Silkworms and Quality Parameters of Raw Silk
by Andreja Urbanek Krajnc, Tamas Bakonyi, Istvan Ando, Eva Kurucz, Norbert Solymosi, Paula Pongrac and Rebeka Lucijana Berčič
Insects 2022, 13(9), 836; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13090836 - 14 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2247
Abstract
Silkworm rearing activities ceased in the 1970′s in several European countries. Attempts on the re-establishment of ecological and sustainable sericulture in Slovenia and Hungary are ongoing. The aim of the study was to assess the usability of locally adapted mulberry genotypes for sericulture [...] Read more.
Silkworm rearing activities ceased in the 1970′s in several European countries. Attempts on the re-establishment of ecological and sustainable sericulture in Slovenia and Hungary are ongoing. The aim of the study was to assess the usability of locally adapted mulberry genotypes for sericulture and to estimate connections between leaf compound and silkworm performance parameters. A controlled feeding experiment of silkworms was performed to test the influence of leaves from selected trees on the growth of larvae, the health and microbiological status of larvae (e.g., gut bacterial microbiome, Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus infection), weight of cocoons and raw silk parameters. The Slovenian and Hungarian mulberry genotypes had significantly higher total protein contents, and lower total phenolic contents and differed significantly in some individual phenolics compared to the reference sericultural and fruit varieties. Significant differences were found in the contents of the macro- and microelements, namely S, Mn, Fe, and Sr. Based on correlative statistics and multivariate analysis, a combined positive influence of proteins, specific phenolics, and microelements on larval growth and silk thread parameters was predicted. The results of the study indicate that selected local Slovenian and Hungarian mulberry varieties are suitable for high-quality silk cocoon and raw silk production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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13 pages, 1836 KiB  
Article
A Bombyx mori Infection Model for Screening Antibiotics against Staphylococcus epidermidis
by Aurora Montali, Francesca Berini, Alessio Saviane, Silvia Cappellozza, Flavia Marinelli and Gianluca Tettamanti
Insects 2022, 13(8), 748; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13080748 - 19 Aug 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1934
Abstract
The increasing number of microorganisms that are resistant to antibiotics is prompting the development of new antimicrobial compounds and strategies to fight bacterial infections. The use of insects to screen and test new drugs is increasingly considered a promising tool to accelerate the [...] Read more.
The increasing number of microorganisms that are resistant to antibiotics is prompting the development of new antimicrobial compounds and strategies to fight bacterial infections. The use of insects to screen and test new drugs is increasingly considered a promising tool to accelerate the discovery phase and limit the use of mammalians. In this study, we used for the first time the silkworm, Bombyx mori, as an in vivo infection model to test the efficacy of three glycopeptide antibiotics (GPAs), against the nosocomial pathogen Staphylococcus epidermidis. To reproduce the human physiological temperature, the bacterial infection was performed at 37 °C and it was monitored over time by evaluating the survival rate of the larvae, as well the response of immunological markers (i.e., activity of hemocytes, activation of the prophenoloxidase system, and lysozyme activity). All the three GPAs tested (vancomycin, teicoplanin, and dalbavancin) were effective in curing infected larvae, significantly reducing their mortality and blocking the activation of the immune system. These results corroborate the use of this silkworm infection model for the in vivo studies of antimicrobial molecules active against staphylococci. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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17 pages, 3137 KiB  
Article
Global Profiling of Genes Expressed in the Silk Glands of Philippine-Reared Mulberry Silkworms (Bombyx mori)
by Pauline Nicole O. de la Peña, Adria Gabrielle D. Lao and Ma. Anita M. Bautista
Insects 2022, 13(8), 669; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13080669 - 24 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3274
Abstract
RNA sequencing was used to assemble transcriptome data for Philippine-reared silkworm and compare gene expression profiles of strains reared in high- and low-temperature environments. RNA was isolated from the silk glands of fifth instar larvae and mRNA-enriched libraries were sequenced using Illumina NextSeq [...] Read more.
RNA sequencing was used to assemble transcriptome data for Philippine-reared silkworm and compare gene expression profiles of strains reared in high- and low-temperature environments. RNA was isolated from the silk glands of fifth instar larvae and mRNA-enriched libraries were sequenced using Illumina NextSeq 500. Transcriptome reads were assembled using reference-based and de novo assemblers, and assemblies were evaluated using different metrics for transcriptome quality, including the read mapping rate, E90N50, RSEM-eval, and the presence of single-copy orthologs. All transcriptome assemblies were able to reconstruct >40,000 transcripts. Differential expression analysis found 476 differentially expressed genes (DEGs; 222 upregulated, 254 downregulated) in strains reared in different temperatures. Among the top DEGs were myrosinase, heat shock proteins, serine protease inhibitors, dehydrogenases, and regulators of the juvenile hormone. Validation of some of the top DEGs using qPCR supported the findings of the in silico analysis. GO term enrichment analysis reveals an overrepresentation of GO terms related to nucleotide metabolism and biosynthesis, lipid and carbohydrate metabolic processes, regulation of transcription, nucleotide binding, protein binding, metal binding, catalytic activity, oxidoreductase activity, and hydrolase activity. The data provided here will serve as a resource for improving local strains and increasing silk production of Philippine-reared B. mori strains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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16 pages, 701 KiB  
Article
A Route to Translate a Silk-Based Medical Device from Lab to Clinic: The Silk Biomaterials Srl Experience
by Giulia Alessandra Bassani, Valentina Vincoli, Marco Biagiotti, Elisa Valsecchi, Marta Virginia Zucca, Claudia Clavelli, Antonio Alessandrino and Giuliano Freddi
Insects 2022, 13(2), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020212 - 21 Feb 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2114
Abstract
The medical device is a nerve conduit entirely made of Bombyx mori silk fibroin. It is a tubular scaffold used for repairing peripheral nerve gaps, whose function is to protect the severed nerves and to favor their natural healing process. As any implantable [...] Read more.
The medical device is a nerve conduit entirely made of Bombyx mori silk fibroin. It is a tubular scaffold used for repairing peripheral nerve gaps, whose function is to protect the severed nerves and to favor their natural healing process. As any implantable medical device, the conduit must perform its function without causing adverse effects to the patient, meaning that it must be compliant with a range of regulations aimed at evaluating the risks related to the constituent materials and the manufacturing process, the toxicological impact of the processing aids, the biological safety, the functional performance, and the ability to sustain tissue regeneration processes. An exhaustive on-bench testing plan has been performed for the determination of the morphological, geometrical, physical, structural, and mechanical properties. For the toxicological analysis, the device was extracted with solvent and the number of leachable substances was determined by suitable chromatographic techniques. The biological safety was assessed by means of a set of tests, including cytotoxicity, delayed hypersensitivity, intracutaneous reactivity, pyrogen test, LAL (Limulus Amebocyte Lysate) test, acute systemic toxicity, and genotoxicity. Overall, the accumulated results demonstrated the suitability of the device for the intended use and supported the starting of a first-in-human clinical trial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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13 pages, 11059 KiB  
Article
Enterococci as Dominant Xylose Utilizing Lactic Acid Bacteria in Eri Silkworm Midgut and the Potential Use of Enterococcus hirae as Probiotic for Eri Culture
by Kridsada Unban, Augchararat Klongklaew, Pratthana Kodchasee, Punnita Pamueangmun, Kalidas Shetty and Chartchai Khanongnuch
Insects 2022, 13(2), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020136 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2906
Abstract
A total of 51 pentose utilizing lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were isolated from acid-forming bacteria in the midgut of healthy mature Eri silkworm using de Man, Rogosa and Sharpe (MRS) agar containing 10 g/L xylose (MRS-xylose) as the carbon source supplemented with 0.04% [...] Read more.
A total of 51 pentose utilizing lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were isolated from acid-forming bacteria in the midgut of healthy mature Eri silkworm using de Man, Rogosa and Sharpe (MRS) agar containing 10 g/L xylose (MRS-xylose) as the carbon source supplemented with 0.04% (w/v) bromocresol purple. Further analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed the highest prevalence of up to 35 enterococci isolates, which included 20 isolates of Enterococcus mundtii, followed by Entercoccus faecalis (eight isolates), Weissella cibaria (four isolates), Enterococcus hirae (two isolates), Enterococcus lactis (one isolate), and Enterococcus faecium (one isolate). All 51 LAB isolates showed positive growth on MRS containing a range of polysaccharides as the sole carbon source. All isolates were able to grow and form clear zones on MRS supplemented with 1 g/L xylose, while E. faecalis SC1, E. faecalis SCT2, and E. hirae SX2 showed tannin tolerance ability up to 5 g/L. Moreover, five isolates showed antimicrobial activity against Eri silkworm pathogens, including Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Proteus vulgaris, with E. hirae SX2 having the highest inhibitory effect. Supplementation of live E. hirae SX2 on castor leaves significantly improved the weight and reduced the silkworm mortality when compared with the control group (p < 0.05). This cocci LAB can be considered as the new probiotic for Eri culture. Additionally, this finding presented the perspective of non-mulberry silkworm that could also be used as the model for further applying to new trends of the sericulture industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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13 pages, 1326 KiB  
Article
Co-Expression Network and Time-Course Expression Analyses to Identify Silk Protein Regulatory Factors in Bombyx mori
by Yudai Masuoka, Wei Cao, Akiya Jouraku, Hiroki Sakai, Hideki Sezutsu and Kakeru Yokoi
Insects 2022, 13(2), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020131 - 26 Jan 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2674
Abstract
Bombyx mori is an important economic insect and an animal model in pharmacomedical research. Although its physiology has been studied for many years, the mechanism via which silk protein genes are regulated remains unclear. In this study, we performed two-step expression screening, namely [...] Read more.
Bombyx mori is an important economic insect and an animal model in pharmacomedical research. Although its physiology has been studied for many years, the mechanism via which silk protein genes are regulated remains unclear. In this study, we performed two-step expression screening, namely co-expression network and time-course expression analyses to screen silk protein regulation factors. A co-expression network analysis using RNA-seq data that were obtained from various tissues, including the silk glands of B. mori, was performed to identify novel silk protein regulatory factors. Overall, 91 transcription factors, including some known ones, were found to be co-expressed with silk protein genes. Furthermore, time-course expression analysis during the fifth instar larvae stage revealed that the expression pattern of 13 novel transcription factors was highly relevant to that of silk protein genes and their known regulatory factor genes. In particular, the expression peak of several transcription factors (TFs) was detected before the expression of silk protein genes peak. These results indicated that a larger number of genes than expected may be involved in silk protein regulation in B. mori. Functional analyses of function-unknown transcription factors should enhance our understanding of this system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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12 pages, 1384 KiB  
Article
Bacterial Survey in the Guts of Domestic Silkworms, Bombyx mori L.
by Ivan Y. Dee Tan and Ma. Anita M. Bautista
Insects 2022, 13(1), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010100 - 17 Jan 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4121
Abstract
Silkworm, Bombyx mori L., research involves studies on improving strains for enhanced sustainability of high-quality silk production. Several of these have investigated the factors affecting growth and development of silkworm larvae and cocoon characteristics that subsequently affect the yield and quality of silk. [...] Read more.
Silkworm, Bombyx mori L., research involves studies on improving strains for enhanced sustainability of high-quality silk production. Several of these have investigated the factors affecting growth and development of silkworm larvae and cocoon characteristics that subsequently affect the yield and quality of silk. The gut microbiota has been reported to impact growth and development of silkworms and has been linked, in particular, with absorption and utilization of nutrients and immunity to diseases. The silkworm strains maintained in the Philippines lack sufficient biological data for use in strain improvement. This prompted efforts to augment the data by profiling bacterial communities through high-throughput 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and analysis in four of the local silkworm strains that are bred and maintained in the country. Results of the study showed that the four silkworm strains are abundant in bacteria that belong to the genera Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas, Delftia, Methylobacterium and Acinetobacter. Results also showed that bacterial diversity and evenness increase as larvae mature, which can be correlated to larval development and shifts in the amount and age of mulberry leaves the larvae consume. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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17 pages, 2782 KiB  
Article
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Impregnation of Gold Nanoparticles Demonstrates a New Route for the Fabrication of Hybrid Silk Materials
by Manish Singh, Estera S. Dey, Sunil Bhand and Cedric Dicko
Insects 2022, 13(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010018 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2882
Abstract
How many nanoparticles can we load in a fiber? How much will leak? Underlying is the relatively new question of the “space available” in fibers for nanoparticle loading. Here, using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) as a carrier fluid, we explored the [...] Read more.
How many nanoparticles can we load in a fiber? How much will leak? Underlying is the relatively new question of the “space available” in fibers for nanoparticle loading. Here, using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) as a carrier fluid, we explored the impregnation in four Indian silks (Mulberry, Eri, Muga, and Tasar) with five standard sizes of gold nanoparticles (5, 20, 50, 100 and 150 nm in diameter). All silks could be permanently impregnated with nanoparticles up to 150 nm in size under scCO2 impregnation. Accompanying structural changes indicated that the amorphous silk domains reorganized to accommodate the gold NPs. The mechanism was studied in detail in degummed Mulberry silk fibers (i.e., without the sericin coating) with the 5 nm nanoparticle. The combined effects of concentration, time of impregnation, scCO2 pressure, and temperature showed that only a narrow set of conditions allowed for permanent impregnation without deterioration of the properties of the silk fibers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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13 pages, 2303 KiB  
Article
Transcriptome Analysis Reveals the Gene Expression Changes in the Silkworm (Bombyx mori) in Response to Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure
by Rui Zhang, Yu-Yao Cao, Juan Du, Kiran Thakur, Shun-Ming Tang, Fei Hu and Zhao-Jun Wei
Insects 2021, 12(12), 1110; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12121110 - 13 Dec 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2649
Abstract
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been recognized for its beneficial influence on physiological alterations. The development (body weight) and economic characteristics (cocoon weight, cocoon shell ratio, and cocoon shell weight) of silkworms were increased after continuous 7.5 µM H2S treatment. [...] Read more.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been recognized for its beneficial influence on physiological alterations. The development (body weight) and economic characteristics (cocoon weight, cocoon shell ratio, and cocoon shell weight) of silkworms were increased after continuous 7.5 µM H2S treatment. In the present study, gene expression changes in the fat body of silkworms at the 5th instar larvae in response to the H2S were investigated through comparative transcriptome analysis. Moreover, the expression pattern of significant differentially expressed genes (DEGs) at the 5th instar larvae was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) after H2S exposure. A total of 1200 (DEGs) was identified, of which 977 DEGs were up-regulated and 223 DEGs were down-regulated. Most of the DEGs were involved in the transport pathway, cellular community, carbohydrate metabolism, and immune-associated signal transduction. The up regulated genes under H2S exposure were involved in endocytosis, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, the citrate cycle (TCA cycle), and the synthesis of fibroin, while genes related to inflammation were down-regulated, indicating that H2S could promote energy metabolism, the transport pathway, silk synthesis, and inhibit inflammation in the silkworm. In addition, the expression levels of these genes were increased or decreased in a time-dependent manner during the 5th instar larvae. These results provided insight into the effects of H2S on silkworms at the transcriptional level and a substantial foundation for understanding H2S function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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12 pages, 2066 KiB  
Article
Hemolymph Ecdysteroid Titer Affects Maternal mRNAs during Bombyx mori Oogenesis
by Meirong Zhang, Pingzhen Xu and Tao Chen
Insects 2021, 12(11), 969; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12110969 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2041
Abstract
Silkworm larval–pupal metamorphosis and the first half of pupal–adult development occur during oogenesis from previtellogenesis to vitellogenesis and include two peaks of the hemolymph ecdysteroid titer. Moreover, a rise in 20-hydroxyecdysone titer in early pupae can trigger the first major transition from previtellogenesis [...] Read more.
Silkworm larval–pupal metamorphosis and the first half of pupal–adult development occur during oogenesis from previtellogenesis to vitellogenesis and include two peaks of the hemolymph ecdysteroid titer. Moreover, a rise in 20-hydroxyecdysone titer in early pupae can trigger the first major transition from previtellogenesis to vitellogenesis in silkworm oogenesis. In this study, we first investigated the expression patterns of 66 maternal genes in the ovary at the wandering stage. We then examined the developmental expression profiles in six time-series samples of ovaries or ovarioles by reverse transcription–quantitative PCR. We found that the transcripts of 22 maternal genes were regulated by 20-hydroxyecdysone in the isolated abdomens of the pupae following a single injection of 20-hydroxyecdysone. This study is the first to determine the relationship between 20-hydroxyecdysone and maternal genes during silkworm oogenesis. These findings provide a basis for further research into the embryonic development of Bombyx mori. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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16 pages, 3513 KiB  
Article
Pathogenicity Detection and Genome Analysis of Two Different Geographic Strains of BmNPV
by Huimin Guo, Benzheng Zhang, Xin Zheng, Juan Sun, Huiduo Guo, Gang Li, Guodong Zhao, Anying Xu and Heying Qian
Insects 2021, 12(10), 890; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12100890 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2102
Abstract
The pathogenicity of different concentrations of Bombyx mori nuclear polyhedrosis virus- Zhenjiang strain (BmNPV ZJ) and Yunnan strain (BmNPV YN) was assessed in Baiyu larvae. The structures of the two viral strains were observed by negative-staining electron microscopy, and their proliferation was examined [...] Read more.
The pathogenicity of different concentrations of Bombyx mori nuclear polyhedrosis virus- Zhenjiang strain (BmNPV ZJ) and Yunnan strain (BmNPV YN) was assessed in Baiyu larvae. The structures of the two viral strains were observed by negative-staining electron microscopy, and their proliferation was examined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The genomic sequences of these two viruses were obtained to investigate the differences in their pathogenicity. The lethal concentration 50 (LC50) of BmNPV ZJ against Baiyu larvae was higher than that of BmNPV YN, indicating a relatively more robust pathogenicity in BmNPV YN. Electron microscopic images showed that the edges of BmNPV YN were clearer than those of BmNPV ZJ. The qPCR analysis demonstrated significantly higher relative expressions of immediately early 1 gene (ie-1), p143, vp39, and polyhedrin genes (polh) in BmNPV ZJ than in BmNPV YN at 12–96 h. The complete genomes of BmNPV ZJ and BmNPV YN were, respectively, 135,895 bp and 143,180 bp long, with 141 and 145 coding sequences and 40.93% and 39.71% GC content. Considering the BmNPV ZJ genome as a reference, 893 SNP loci and 132 InDel mutations were observed in the BmNPV YN genome, resulting in 106 differential gene sequences. Among these differential genes, 76 (including 22 hub genes and 35 non-hub genes) possessed amino acid mutations. Thirty genes may have been related to viral genome replication and transcription and five genes may have been associated with the viral oral infection. These results can help in understanding the mechanisms of pathogenicity of different strains of BmNPV in silkworms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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12 pages, 2592 KiB  
Article
Function of Polyamines in Regulating Cell Cycle Progression of Cultured Silkworm Cells
by Li Chang, Zhiqing Li, Hao Guo, Wenchang Zhang, Weiqun Lan, Jue Wang, Guanwang Shen, Qingyou Xia and Ping Zhao
Insects 2021, 12(7), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070624 - 8 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2514
Abstract
Background: Putrescine, spermidine, and spermine are polyamines that are ubiquitously distributed in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, which play important roles in cell proliferation and differentiation. Methods: We investigated the expression profiles of polyamine pathway genes by qRT-PCR in different tissues of the lepidopteran [...] Read more.
Background: Putrescine, spermidine, and spermine are polyamines that are ubiquitously distributed in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, which play important roles in cell proliferation and differentiation. Methods: We investigated the expression profiles of polyamine pathway genes by qRT-PCR in different tissues of the lepidopteran silkworm. The polyamine levels in cultured silkworm cells were measured by HPLC. Spermidine and polyamine biosynthetic inhibitors were used for treating the cultured silkworm cells in order to clarify their effects on cell cycle progression. Results: We identified the anabolic and catabolic enzymes that are involved in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway in silkworm. Transcriptional expression showed at least seven genes that were expressed in different silkworm tissues. Treatments of the cultured silkworm cells with spermidine or inhibitor mixtures of DFMO and MGBG induced or inhibited the expression of cell cycle-related genes, respectively, and thus led to changed progression of the cell cycle. Conclusions: The present study is the first to identify the polyamine pathway genes and to demonstrate the roles of polyamines on cell cycle progression via regulation of the expression of cell cycle genes in silkworm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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11 pages, 1581 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Antibacterial Drugs Using Silkworms Infected by Cutibacterium acnes
by Yasuhiko Matsumoto, Yuki Tateyama and Takashi Sugita
Insects 2021, 12(7), 619; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070619 - 8 Jul 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2378
Abstract
Cutibacterium acnes is a causative agent of inflammatory skin diseases and systemic infections. Systemic infections caused by C. acnes are difficult to treat, and the development of a systemic infection model for C. acnes would be useful for elucidating the mechanisms of infection [...] Read more.
Cutibacterium acnes is a causative agent of inflammatory skin diseases and systemic infections. Systemic infections caused by C. acnes are difficult to treat, and the development of a systemic infection model for C. acnes would be useful for elucidating the mechanisms of infection and searching for therapeutic agents. In this study, we established a silkworm infection model as a new experimental system to evaluate the interaction between C. acnes and the host, and the efficacy of antibacterial drugs. Silkworms infected with C. acnes died when reared at 37 °C. The dose of injected bacterial cells required to kill half of the silkworms (LD50) was determined under rearing conditions at 37 °C. The viable cell number of C. acnes was increased in the hemolymph and fat body of the infected silkworms. Silkworms injected with autoclaved C. acnes cells did not die during the study period. The survival time of silkworms injected with C. acnes was prolonged by the injection of antibacterial drugs such as tetracycline and clindamycin. These findings suggest that the silkworm C. acnes infection model can be used to evaluate host toxicity caused by C. acnes and the in vivo efficacy of antimicrobial drugs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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20 pages, 5438 KiB  
Article
Reference Transcriptome Data in Silkworm Bombyx mori
by Kakeru Yokoi, Takuya Tsubota, Akiya Jouraku, Hideki Sezutsu and Hidemasa Bono
Insects 2021, 12(6), 519; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060519 - 3 Jun 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 5050
Abstract
Herein, we performed RNA-seq analysis of ten major tissues/subparts of silkworm larvae. The sequences were mapped onto the reference genome assembly and the reference transcriptome data were successfully constructed. The reference data provided a nearly complete sequence for sericin-1, a [...] Read more.
Herein, we performed RNA-seq analysis of ten major tissues/subparts of silkworm larvae. The sequences were mapped onto the reference genome assembly and the reference transcriptome data were successfully constructed. The reference data provided a nearly complete sequence for sericin-1, a major silk gene with a complex structure. We also markedly improved the gene model for other genes. The transcriptomic expression was investigated in each tissue and a number of transcripts were identified that were exclusively expressed in tissues such as the testis. Transcripts strongly expressed in the midgut formed tight genomic clusters, suggesting that they originated from tandem gene duplication. Transcriptional factor genes expressed in specific tissues or the silk gland subparts were also identified. We successfully constructed reference transcriptome data in the silkworm and found that a number of transcripts showed unique expression profiles. These results will facilitate basic studies on the silkworm and accelerate its applications, which will contribute to further advances in lepidopteran and entomological research as well as the practical use of these insects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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Review

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25 pages, 3165 KiB  
Review
Lens on Tropical Sericulture Development in Indonesia: Recent Status and Future Directions for Industry and Social Forestry
by Lincah Andadari, Dhany Yuniati, Bambang Supriyanto, Murniati, Sri Suharti, Asmanah Widarti, Eden Steven, Andi Sadapotto, Bondan Winarno, Minarningsih, Retno Agustarini, Nurhaedah Muin, Wahyudi Isnan, Yetti Heryati, Yelin Adalina, Irma Yeny, Rosita Dewi, Ari Nurlia, Septiantina Dyah Riendriasari, Kun Estri Maharani, Luthfan Meilana Nugraha and Budi Hadi Narendraadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Insects 2022, 13(10), 913; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13100913 - 8 Oct 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3483
Abstract
The domestic silkworm or mulberry silk moth, B. mori L., provides more than 99% of the world’s silk. Silk, as a sericulture product, was first introduced in Indonesia through a trade mechanism and began to develop in 1953. Several factors (economic, ecological, market, [...] Read more.
The domestic silkworm or mulberry silk moth, B. mori L., provides more than 99% of the world’s silk. Silk, as a sericulture product, was first introduced in Indonesia through a trade mechanism and began to develop in 1953. Several factors (economic, ecological, market, and cultural) support sericulture and make it become one of the non-timber forest product priorities. However, the competitive advantages alone have not encouraged the development of prospective sericulture industry in Indonesia yet. This paper is a review of tropical sericulture development in Indonesia. The literature on the development of sericulture in Indonesia between 1989 and 2022 is used to describe conditions related to mulberry cultivation (moriculture), and silkworm rearing (sericulture), as well as the state of socio-economic development, culture, and institutions. Moriculture and sericulture techniques, socio-economic aspects, institutional arrangements, and community motivations are intertwined, creating a challenging atmosphere for sericulture development. There are potential resources, such as exploring quality mulberry production and quality silkworm production through research and development, valuable cultural aspects, and potential stakeholders to build network engagement. Commitment, cooperation, and action from all stakeholders are needed to enhance the development of sericulture in Indonesia. In this context, the central government can play an important role in facilitating multi-stakeholder partnerships in the development of integrated sericulture in Indonesia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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19 pages, 9922 KiB  
Review
Bibliometric Analysis of Trends in Mulberry and Silkworm Research on the Production of Silk and Its By-Products
by Domenico Giora, Giuditta Marchetti, Silvia Cappellozza, Alberto Assirelli, Alessio Saviane, Luigi Sartori and Francesco Marinello
Insects 2022, 13(7), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13070568 - 23 Jun 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3156
Abstract
Traditionally, sericulture is meant as the agricultural activity of silk production, from mulberry (Morus sp.pl.) cultivation to silkworm (Bombyx mori L.) rearing. The aim of the present work is to analyze the trends and outputs of scientific research on sericulture-related topics [...] Read more.
Traditionally, sericulture is meant as the agricultural activity of silk production, from mulberry (Morus sp.pl.) cultivation to silkworm (Bombyx mori L.) rearing. The aim of the present work is to analyze the trends and outputs of scientific research on sericulture-related topics during the last two decades, from 2000 to 2020. In this work the authors propose a text-mining analysis of the titles, abstracts and keywords of scientific articles focused on sericulture and available in the SCOPUS database considering the above-mentioned period of time; from this article collection, the 100 most recurrent terms were extracted and studied in detail. The number of publications per year in sericulture-related topics increased from 87 in 2000 to 363 in 2020 (+317%). The 100 most recurrent terms were then aggregated in clusters. The analysis shows how in the last period scientific research, besides the traditional themes of sericulture, also focused on alternative products obtainable from the sericultural practice, as fruits of mulberry trees (increment of +134% of the occurrences in the last five years) and chemical compounds as antioxidants (+233% of occurrences), phenolics (+330% of occurrences) and flavonoids (+274% of occurrences). From these considerations, the authors can state how sericulture is an active and multidisciplinary research field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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25 pages, 1978 KiB  
Review
The Contribution of Silk Fibroin in Biomedical Engineering
by Cristian Lujerdean, Gabriela-Maria Baci, Alexandra-Antonia Cucu and Daniel Severus Dezmirean
Insects 2022, 13(3), 286; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13030286 - 14 Mar 2022
Cited by 57 | Viewed by 7205
Abstract
Silk fibroin (SF) is a natural protein (biopolymer) extracted from the cocoons of Bombyx mori L. (silkworm). It has many properties of interest in the field of biotechnology, the most important being biodegradability, biocompatibility and robust mechanical strength with high tensile strength. SF [...] Read more.
Silk fibroin (SF) is a natural protein (biopolymer) extracted from the cocoons of Bombyx mori L. (silkworm). It has many properties of interest in the field of biotechnology, the most important being biodegradability, biocompatibility and robust mechanical strength with high tensile strength. SF is usually dissolved in water-based solvents and can be easily reconstructed into a variety of material formats, including films, mats, hydrogels, and sponges, by various fabrication techniques (spin coating, electrospinning, freeze-drying, and physical or chemical crosslinking). Furthermore, SF is a feasible material used in many biomedical applications, including tissue engineering (3D scaffolds, wounds dressing), cancer therapy (mimicking the tumor microenvironment), controlled drug delivery (SF-based complexes), and bone, eye and skin regeneration. In this review, we describe the structure, composition, general properties, and structure–properties relationship of SF. In addition, the main methods used for ecological extraction and processing of SF that make it a green material are discussed. Lastly, technological advances in the use of SF-based materials are addressed, especially in healthcare applications such as tissue engineering and cancer therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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16 pages, 767 KiB  
Review
Black, Caspian Seas and Central Asia Silk Association (BACSA) for the Future of Sericulture in Europe and Central Asia
by Panomir Tzenov, Silvia Cappellozza and Alessio Saviane
Insects 2022, 13(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010044 - 30 Dec 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2366
Abstract
The history and recent activities of the Black Caspian Seas and Central Asia Silk Association are presented in this paper: the countries that participated in its foundation, the FAO’s action to revitalize sericulture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the following widening of [...] Read more.
The history and recent activities of the Black Caspian Seas and Central Asia Silk Association are presented in this paper: the countries that participated in its foundation, the FAO’s action to revitalize sericulture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the following widening of the Association geographical limits of to enclose other European countries, which were not well-represented in other similar organizations. Some statistical data are illustrated for a better description of the scenario in which the BACSA executive board acted: the world silk production quantity and the relative production of BACSA countries in respect to the Chinese expansion. The themes treated in the BACSA conferences are reported to explain which matters the Executive Board considered the most relevant for the relaunch of this activity in relationships to the international challenges in the subsequent years; the project proposals that were presented to international donors are summarized. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is shown, where key-factors in determining the strengths and weaknesses of this organization and its member countries for a successful re-establishment of sericulture, are considered. In addition, future trends of sericulture with regard to innovative productions and the Green Deal are examined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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19 pages, 752 KiB  
Review
Advances in Editing Silkworms (Bombyx mori) Genome by Using the CRISPR-Cas System
by Gabriela-Maria Baci, Alexandra-Antonia Cucu, Alexandru-Ioan Giurgiu, Adriana-Sebastiana Muscă, Lilla Bagameri, Adela Ramona Moise, Otilia Bobiș, Attila Cristian Rațiu and Daniel Severus Dezmirean
Insects 2022, 13(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010028 - 27 Dec 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 5736
Abstract
CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas (CRISPR-associated) represents a powerful genome editing technology that revolutionized in a short period of time numerous natural sciences branches. Therefore, extraordinary progress was made in various fields, such as entomology or biotechnology. Bombyx mori is one [...] Read more.
CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas (CRISPR-associated) represents a powerful genome editing technology that revolutionized in a short period of time numerous natural sciences branches. Therefore, extraordinary progress was made in various fields, such as entomology or biotechnology. Bombyx mori is one of the most important insects, not only for the sericulture industry, but for numerous scientific areas. The silkworms play a key role as a model organism, but also as a bioreactor for the recombinant protein production. Nowadays, the CRISPR-Cas genome editing system is frequently used in order to perform gene analyses, to increase the resistance against certain pathogens or as an imaging tool in B. mori. Here, we provide an overview of various studies that made use of CRISPR-Cas for B. mori genome editing, with a focus on emphasizing the high applicability of this system in entomology and biological sciences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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21 pages, 655 KiB  
Systematic Review
Nutritional Composition of Bombyx mori Pupae: A Systematic Review
by Luca Tassoni, Silvia Cappellozza, Antonella Dalle Zotte, Simone Belluco, Pietro Antonelli, Filippo Marzoli and Alessio Saviane
Insects 2022, 13(7), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13070644 - 17 Jul 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2809
Abstract
As insects have started to enter the eating habits of Western countries, an increasing amount of literature regarding the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori) prospective application as food has been published. Despite this growing interest, there is currently no systematic review of [...] Read more.
As insects have started to enter the eating habits of Western countries, an increasing amount of literature regarding the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori) prospective application as food has been published. Despite this growing interest, there is currently no systematic review of silkworm nutritional composition available. In this paper, we performed a systematic review of the recent available literature on the nutrient composition of mulberry silkworm pupae. After screening the titles and abstracts of 14,008 studies retrieved from three scientific databases, data about nutrients was extracted from 29 selected papers, together with their related variables. This systematic review provides an overview of the variety of data reported in the literature and highlights that many elements contribute to hindering a sound comparison of the different nutritional values reported for silkworm pupae. The observed variability of the composition data reported could be due to differences in diet, strains, pretreatments, and origin of the silkworm analyzed. However, all these variables were not always available and should be reported in future studies to simplify the data comparison. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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9 pages, 1635 KiB  
Technical Note
Products of Sericulture and Their Hypoglycemic Action Evaluated by Using the Silkworm, Bombyx mori (Lepidoptera: Bombycidae), as a Model
by Salvador D. Aznar-Cervantes, Beatriz Monteagudo Santesteban and José L. Cenis
Insects 2021, 12(12), 1059; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12121059 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2436
Abstract
Sericulture generates different natural products with potential medical applications. Silk peptides, worms, or even pupae are commonly employed in traditional Asian medicine with a wide variety of purposes, and some scientific work has been focused on their antidiabetic properties. This work evaluates the [...] Read more.
Sericulture generates different natural products with potential medical applications. Silk peptides, worms, or even pupae are commonly employed in traditional Asian medicine with a wide variety of purposes, and some scientific work has been focused on their antidiabetic properties. This work evaluates the postprandial antihyperglycemic activity of fibroin, sericin, and powder made from either larvae or pupae of silkworms, and Bombyx mori L. (Lepidoptera: Bombycidae), employing the silkworm itself as an animal model. The results indicate a reduction in the glucose levels in hemolymph after sucrose or glucose-induced hyperglycemia when these products are included in the diet of the worms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silkworm and Silk: Traditional and Innovative Applications)
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