Black Soldier Flies Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Discovery of antibiotics was one of the most important medical advances in history that is ultimately responsible for saving millions of lives. However, many pathogens have evolved resistance to antibiotics, thus rendering them ineffective. The extent of antibiotic resistance is currently reaching crisis proportions. Fortunately, black soldier flies seem to be able to suppress some resistant bacteria. Therefore, they may be useful in reducing the incidence of hard-to-treat infections caused by such bacteria.

Zhao, Z., Yang, C., Gao, B., Wu, Y., Ao, Y., Ma, S., Jiménez, N., Zheng, L., Huang, F., Tomberlin, J.K. and Ren, Z., 2023. Insights into the reduction of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and mobile antibiotic resistance genes by black soldier fly larvae in chicken manure. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 266, 115551. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2023.115551

The increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) from animal manure has raised concerns about the potential threats to public health. The bioconversion of animal manure with insect larvae, such as the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL, Hermetia illucens [L.]), is a promising technology for quickly attenuating ARB while also recycling waste. In this study, we investigated BSFL conversion systems for chicken manure. Using metagenomic analysis, we tracked ARB and evaluated the resistome dissemination risk by investigating the co-occurrence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), mobile genetic elements (MGEs), and bacterial taxa in a genetic context. Our results indicated that BSFL treatment effectively mitigated the relative abundance of ARB, ARGs, and MGEs by 34.9%, 53.3%, and 37.9%, respectively, within 28 days. Notably, the transferable ARGs decreased by 30.9%, indicating that BSFL treatment could mitigate the likelihood of ARG horizontal transfer and thus reduce the risk of ARB occurrence. In addition, the significantly positive correlation links between antimicrobial concentration and relative abundance of ARB reduced by 44.4%. Moreover, using variance partition analysis (VPA), we identified other bacteria as the most important factor influencing ARB, explaining 20.6% of the ARB patterns. Further analysis suggested that antagonism of other bacteria on ARB increased by 1.4 times, while nutrient competition on both total nitrogen and crude fat increased by 2.8 times. Overall, these findings provide insight into the mechanistic understanding of ARB reduction during BSFL treatment of chicken manure and provide a strategy for rapidly mitigating ARB in animal manure.