Effect of replacement of soybean oil by Hermetia illucens fat on performance, digestibility, cecal microbiome, liver transcriptome and liver and plasma lipidomes of broilers


Background: In contrast to protein-rich insect meal, the feed potential of insect fat is generally less explored and knowledge about the suitability of insect fat as a fat source specifically in broiler diets is still limited. In view of this, the present study aimed to comprehensively investigate the effect of partial (50%) and complete replacement of soybean oil with insect fat from Hermetia illucens (HI) larvae in broiler diets on performance, fat digestibility, cecal microbiome, liver transcriptome and liver and plasma lipidomes. Thus, 100 male, 1-day-old Cobb 500 broilers were randomly assigned to three groups and fed three different diets with either 0 (group HI-0, n = 30), 2.5% (group HI-2.5, n = 35) or 5.0% (HI-5.0, n = 35) Hermetia illucens (HI) larvae fat for 35 d. Results: Body weight gain, final body weight, feed intake, and feed:gain ratio during the whole period and apparent ileal digestibility coefficient for ether extract were not different between groups. Cecal microbial diversity did not differ between groups and taxonomic analysis revealed differences in the abundance of only four low-abundance bacterial taxa among groups; the abundances of phylum Actinobacteriota, class Coriobacteriia, order Coriobacteriales and family Eggerthellaceae were lower in group HI-5.0 compared to group HI-2.5 (P < 0.05). Concentrations of total and individual short-chain fatty acids in the cecal digesta were not different between the three groups. Liver transcriptomics revealed a total of 55 and 25 transcripts to be differentially expressed between groups HI-5.0 vs. HI-0 and groups HI-2.5 vs. HI-0, respectively (P < 0.05). The concentrations of most lipid classes, with the exception of phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol and lysophosphatidylcholine in the liver and cholesterylester and ceramide in plasma (P < 0.05), and of the sum of all lipid classes were not different between groups. Conclusions: Partial and complete replacement of soybean oil with HI larvae fat in broiler diets had no effect on growth performance and only modest, but no adverse effects on the cecal microbiome and the metabolic health of broilers. This suggests that HI larvae fat can be used as an alternative fat source in broiler diets, thereby, making broiler production more sustainable.




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Journal of animal science and biotechnology 14 (2023), 1 - 19, 20




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