De novo transcriptome sequencing and analysis revealed the molecular basis of rapid fat accumulation by black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens, L.) for development of insectival biodiesel. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Black soldier fly (BSF, Hermetia illucens L.) can efficiently degrade organic wastes and transform into a high fat containing insect biomass that could be used as feedstock for biodiesel production. Meanwhile, the molecular regulatory basis of fat accumulation by BSF is still unclear; it is necessary to identify vital genes and regulators that are involved in fat accumulation. RESULTS: This study analyzed the dynamic state of fat content and fatty-acid composition of BSF larvae in eight different stages. The late prepupa stage exhibited the highest crude fat, with lauric acid being the main component. Therefore, to provide insight into this unexplained phenomenon, the molecular regulation of rapid fat accumulation by BSF larvae was investigated. The twelve developmental stages of BSF were selected for transcriptome analysis, including the eight stages used for investigation of fat content and fatty-acid composition. By Illumina sequencing, 218,295,450,000nt were generated. Through assembly by Trinity, 70,475 unigenes were obtained with an average length of 1064nt and an N50 of 1749nt. The differentially expressed unigenes were identified by DESeq, with 9159 of them being up-regulated and 10,101 of them were down-regulated. The several putative genes that are involved in the formation of pyruvate, acetyl-CoA biosynthesis, acetyl-CoA transcription, fatty-acid biosynthesis, and triacylglycerol biosynthesis were identified. The four vital metabolic genes that are associated with fat accumulation were validated by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The molecular mechanism of fat accumulation in BSF was clarified in this investigation through the construction of a detailed fat accumulation model from our results. CONCLUSION: The study provides an unprecedented level of insight from transcriptome sequencing to reveal the crude fat accumulation mechanism in developing BSF. The finding holds considerable promise for insectival biodiesel production, and the fat content and fatty-acid composition can be altered by genetic engineering approaches in the future for the insect production industry.

published proceedings

  • Biotechnol Biofuels

altmetric score

  • 2.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhu, Z., Rehman, K. U., Yu, Y., Liu, X., Wang, H., Tomberlin, J. K., ... Zheng, L.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Zhu, Zhaolu||Rehman, Kashif Ur||Yu, Yongqiang||Liu, Xiu||Wang, Hui||Tomberlin, Jeffery K||Sze, Sing-Hoi||Cai, Minmin||Zhang, Jibin||Yu, Ziniu||Zheng, Jinshui||Zheng, Longyu

publication date

  • January 2019