Genomic landscape and genetic manipulation of the black soldier fly Hermetia illucens, a natural waste recycler


The black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), is renowned for its bioconversion of organic waste into a sustainable source of animal feed. We report a high-quality genome of 1.1 Gb and a consensus set of 16,770 gene models for this beneficial species. Compared to those of other dipteran species, the BSF genome has undergone a substantial expansion in functional modules related to septic adaptation, including immune system factors, olfactory receptors, and cytochrome P450s. We further profiled midgut transcriptomes and associated microbiomes of BSF larvae fed with representative types of organic waste. We find that the pathways related to digestive system and fighting infection are commonly enriched and that Firmicutes bacteria dominate the microbial community in BSF across all diets. To extend its potential practical applications, we further developed an efficient CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing approach and implemented this to yield flightless and enhanced feeding capacity phenotypes, both of which could expand BSF production capabilities. Our study provides valuable genomic and technical resources for optimizing BSF lines for industrialization.

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This study was supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB11010600, KFZD-SW-219, QYZDB-SSW-SMC029 and XDB27040205) and the National Key Technology R&D Program of China (2018YFD0500203).

Author information

Y.H. conceived and supervised the project. Y.H., S.Z. and J.Z. designed the study. J.Z., Z.Y., L.Z. and M.C. provided samples and performed treatments. Y.C., L.B., M.C., Z.K., JuX., Y.J., X.L., JiX. and X.X. performed experiments. S.Z., G.F. and Y.Z. analyzed the data. S.Z., Y.H., J.K.T., J.Z., JuX., L.Z., Z.Y., H.Y., Z.Z. and S.W. interpreted the data. S.Z., H.Y. and J.K.T. wrote the manuscript. Affiliations 1 and 3 contributed equally to this study.

Correspondence to Shuai Zhan or Jeffery K. Tomberlin or Jibin Zhang or Yongping Huang.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Zhan, S., Fang, G., Cai, M. et al. Genomic landscape and genetic manipulation of the black soldier fly Hermetia illucens, a natural waste recycler. Cell Res 30, 50–60 (2020).

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