Link to PLOS ONE research article is at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118785)
Crickets, known to pack a protein punch, are often touted as “the sustainable food of the future,” but the issue is far more complex than that, say University of California Cooperative Extension agronomist Mark Lundy and horticultural entomologist Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, in research published April 15 in the Public Library of Science (PLOS ONE). The research is titled "Crickets Are Not a Free Lunch: Protein Capture from Scalable Organic Side-Streams via High-Density Populations of Acheta domesticus."
"While there is potential for insect cultivation to augment the global supply of dietary protein, some of the sustainability claims on this topic have been overstated,” said Lundy, who headed the research at UC Davis while seeking his doctorate in agronomy. “Our study demonstrates that the sustainability gains associated with cultivating crickets as an alternative source of protein will depend, in large part, on what the crickets are fed and which systems of livestock production they are compared to.”
“Insect cultivation is more likely to contribute to human nutrition at a scale of economic and ecological significance if it does not rely on a diet that competes with conventional livestock, but more innovation is needed for this to become a reality,” Lundy said. “Moving forward, the imperative will be to design cost-effective processes that enable large populations of insects to capture protein from underutilized organic waste and side streams."
For the study, the researchers modified a UC Davis greenhouse into replicated cells. They measured the biomass output and feed conversion ratios of populations of crickets (Acheta domestics) reared on food that ranged from grain-based to highly cellulosic diets.They found that the biomass accumulation was “strongly influenced by the quality of the diet.”
“The measurements were made at a much greater population scale and density than any previously reported in the scientific literature,” they wrote. “The biomass accumulation was strongly influenced by the quality of the diet, with the nitrogen concentration, the ratio of N to acid detergent fiber content, and the crude fat explaining most of the variability between feed treatments. In addition, for populations of crickets that were able to survive to a harvestable size, the feed conversion ratios (FCR) measured were higher (less efficient) than those reported from studies conducted at smaller scales and lower population densities. Compared to the industrial-scale production of broiler chickens, crickets fed a poultry feed diet showed little improvement in protein conversion efficiency (PCE), a key metric in determining the ecological footprint of grain-based livestock protein.”
“Crickets fed solid filtrate from food waste processed at an industrial scale via enzymatic digestion were able to reach a harvestable size and achieve an FCR and PCE similar to that of broiler chickens,” they wrote. “However, cricket populations fed minimally-processed, municipal-scale food waste and diets composed largely of straw experienced more than a 99% mortality before reaching a harvestable size.”
The researchers concluded that the potential for “Acheta domesticus to sustainably supplement the global protein supply, beyond what is currently produced via grain-fed chickens, will depend on capturing regionally scalable organic side-streams of relatively high-quality that are not currently being used for livestock production.”
Worldwide, statistics show that crickets are the most widely cultivated insects for the human diet, and are considered the “gateway bug” to entomophagy. They are touted as highly nutritious, and much better for the planet—environmentally and financially--than livestock due to their comparatively efficient feed conversion.
Lundy, who received his doctorate in agronomy from UC Davis in 2013, and his master's degree in international agricultural development from UC Davis, in 2010, has engaged in entomophagy. Crickets? Yes. “I ate some of my experimental subjects, after weighing them for the research,” he said. He dusted them with cornmeal and Cajun seasoning and fried them in olive oil. He has also snacked on protein bars made with cricket flour.
“I'm all for exploring alternatives, and I am impressed by the amount of innovation that has sprung up around insect cultivation and cuisine in the last few years,” Lundy said. “However, I also think we need to be clear-eyed about what the sustainability gains are and aren't, and focus our innovative efforts and limited resources to where they will have the most lasting impact.”
Crickets are readily available in pet stores as food for turtles, frogs and other pets. Part of many human diets, they are considered delicacies or snacks in many countries. Cricket flour is now commonly found in protein bars, baked goods and protein powders.
Klittich, who grew up in the nursery business, will receive a two-year $10,000 scholarship, or $5000 per year. The scholarship is awarded to a master's or doctoral candidate studying horticulture or a related field and seeking a career as a researcher, scientist or educator.
Klittich, who plans to receive his doctorate in entomology in 2016, aspires to be a floriculture scientist and educator.
"I am very excited," he told AFE. "Support from the industry is a very meaningful and appreciated honor." He said he is grateful for the opportunity to "help the industry move forward" with his work on pest control and management."
The scholarship, established in 2010, is funded by contributions to AFE from the floral industry, the Ecke family and other sources.
Klittich's research focuses on increasing plant resistance to herbivorous and improving integrated pest management (IPM) programs in horticulture and floriculture. He is currently analyzing the effects of silicate fertilizers on leafmining pests in chrysanthemum and gerbera production systems.
"I intend to continue this research by testing silicate fertilizers in field trials at production facilities and on new crops," he told AFE. "This scholarship will help with technical aspects in the laboratory and allow me to travel and do more field work."
"The end goal of any applied research project should be to give useful, needed information to growers and industry personnel," Klittich said.
"Danny has given many presentations of his research at grower meetings in California as well as at regional and national programs under the auspices of the Entomological Society of America," wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“He has written several successful grant proposals, has a number of practical publications and he is committed to a research/extension career focused on the floriculture/nursery industry," Parrella noted. Klittich has also collaborated with growers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, including Ocean Breeze International, Pyramid Flowers, Inc., and GroLink Chrysanthemums.
"We have been impressed with his practical and technical knowledge and his experience with research projects,” wrote Rene Van Wingerden and Phil Soderman of Ocean Breeze in their recommendation letter. “Daniel has an excellent understanding of the needs of agriculture/horticulture growers.”
Klittich, from Fillmore, Ventura County, is a graduate of Fillmore High School and valedictorian of the Class of 2006. As a youth, he worked at his family's nursery, Otto and Sons Nursery, Inc., Fillmore. He was also active in 4-H and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
Klittich received his bachelor degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2010. Following his graduation, he worked in the Parrella laboratory, helping to maintain the greenhouses and experimental plants and assisting with pesticide efficacy trials on several crops and pests including spider mites, leafminer and mealbugs. He enrolled in the doctorate program in 2012 and continues his work in the Parrella lab. He is the current president of UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association.
Active in the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Pacific Branch of ESA, Klittich was a member of the UC Davis championship team that won the national ESA student debate in 2014 and 2013. The 2014 topic dealt with whether the agricultural use of neonicotinoids should be banned, while the 2013 topic centered on whether to use GMOs to increase food security in regions where the technology is not universally accepted.
In addition, he is a frequent invitational speaker at ESA meetings. He presented a scientific talk on “Role of Invasive Arthropods in Introducing New Pathogens to the Pacific Branch” (2013 PBESA meeting, South Lake Tahoe) and “Influencing oviposition and feeding site selection of Liriomyza trifolii (Burgess) (Diptera: Agromyzidae) (2014 ESA meeting, Austin, Texas).
Klittich serves as a teaching assistant for a UC Davis entomology class on "Natural History of Insects" and co-organized a freshman seminar in 2013 on "Insects in Industry."
The American Floral Endowment is dedicated to advancing the industry through funding floriculture research, educational grants and scholarships. More than $15 million has been funded toward research projects benefiting the entire industry, and more than $600,000 has been funded in scholarships designed to attract and retain the future leaders of the industry.
(Editor's Note: Lori Ostrow, communications specialist with the American Floral Endowment, contributed to this news story.)
DAVIS--Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will present a seminar on "To Antarctica and Back: The Search for Belgica antarctica Jacobs, 1900 (Diptera; Chironomidae)" from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28 in 122 Briggs.
Parrella spent the first three weeks in January at the Julio Escudero Research Station operated by the Chilean Antarctic Institute on King George Island – part of the South Shetland Islands in the Antarctic Peninsula. This area is known for some of the greatest biological diversity in Antarctica.
The purpose of the trip was bio-prospecting for microbes and secondary plant metabolites that may have agricultural and medical utility. This is related to ongoing research in his laboratory with Pseudomonas antarctica (n. sp) – a bacteria purported to increase overall plant health. A second objective of this trip was to document the presence of arthropods in the vicinity of the research station. Both will be covered in this seminar.
Parrella will also convey his overall Antarctica experience via slides and a short video presentation.
King George Island (named for King George) is the largest of the South Shetland Islands, lying 75 miles off the coast of Antarctica in the Southern Ocean.
Parrella received his bachelor of science degree in animal science from Rutgers-State University of Cook College, New Brunswick, N. J., and his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.
He joined the faculty of UC Riverside's Department of Entomology in 1980, and then the UC Davis Departments of Entomology and Environmental Horticulture in 1988. A professor in the Departments of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) and Plant Sciences since 1991, he served as associate dean, Division of Agricultural Sciences, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences from 1999 to 2009.
The list of seminars for the winter quarter, all held on Wednesday noon in 122 Briggs Hall, is on this web page.
His seminar, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., will be hosted by Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. The seminar will be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
"Sustainable agriculture is proving to be a challenge for many growers," Ohmart said. "They are unsure of the definition of sustainable agriculture, how to integrate the concept into their farm management, and how to measure its value to their production bottom line. SureHarvest has developed a framework that growers, grower groups and companies can use to design, implement and measure sustainability performance. The framework is called SureHarvest's 5 Ps of sustainability. The model evolved out of SureHarvest's work with the California wine industry since 2002 and is designed to meet those challenges."
Ohlmart will discuss the evolution of the framework and the tools that have been developed to facilitate program implementation. "This includes an online program management software platform that contains an online self-assessment workbook of sustainable farming practices, a reporting system for instant feedback on a grower's self-assessment and educational content in context on sustainable farming practices."
SureHarvest has also been working with the Almond Board of California designing and implementing the California Sustainable Almond Program and with the California Cut Flower Commission developing a program for the sustainable production of cut flowers, said Ohmart, who also will discuss these programs. He will zero in on "lessons learned about the challenges of getting grower engagement in sustainability programs, including the role of the University of California research and extension."
Ohmart received his bachelor's degree in forest biology from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York (SUNY) and his Ph.D. in entomology from UC Berkeley. He was a principal research scientist for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Division of Forest Research in Australia for 13 years where he did basic research on insect pests of Monterey pine and Eucalyptus.
His biography also includes:
- From 1989 to 1995 he worked as a private consultant for Scientific Methods, Inc. in Chico, Calif., helping growers develop and implement integrated pest management (IPM) programs for almonds, apples, walnuts, prunes, and pistachios.
- From 1996 to 2009 he was the Sustainable Winegrowing director for the Lodi Winegrape Commission where he helped them develop what has become an internationally recognized sustainable winegrowing program. This included creating the Lodi-Winegrower's Workbook program and the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing program, California's first third party-certified sustainable winegrowing program.
- Since late 2009, he has served as vice president of professional services with SureHarvest, a company that provides a complete set of sustainability solutions for growers, grower groups, and Agrifood companies. He has presented more than 300 seminars, conference papers and symposia papers at universities, government research organizations, and grower groups throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Finland and is very active at the county, state and national level in pest management and agriculture industry affairs.
In addition, Ohlmart serves on the boards of Protected Harvest, the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists, and the Advisory Board of the Cal Poly Center for Sustainability. He recently published the book View from the Vineyard: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Winegrape Growing.
His seminar will be recorded for later posting on UCTV.
Wednesday, Nov. 5
Professor, University of Kentucky, specializing in ecology and evolution of life histories; insect-plant interactions; insect behavioral ecology
Title: "Inbreeding-Environment Interactions: Experimental Studies and a Meta Analysis"
Host: Jay Rosenheim, professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Nov. 12
Assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, specializing in ecology
Title: "Pulses, Phenology and Ontogeny: Towards a More Temporally Explicit Framework for Understanding Species Interactions?"
Wednesday, Nov. 19
Associate professor of biology, California State University, Northridge, specializing in nematology
Title: “A Fatal Attraction: Regulation of Development and Behavior in the Nematode Pristionchus pacificus by a Beetle Pheromone”
Host: Valerie Williamson, professor of nematology, Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Nov. 26
Doris Bachtrog, lab
Associate professor of integrative biology, UC Berkeley, specializing in evolutionary and functional genomics
Title: "Numerous Transitions of Sex Chromosomes in Diptera"
Host: Michael Parrella, professor and chair, Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Dec. 3
To be announced
Wednesday, Dec. 10
Postdoctoral researcher, Harvard University
Title: "RoboBee: Using the Engineering Toolbox to Understand the Flight Apparatus of Flying Insects"
Host: James Carey, distinguished professor of entomology
This seminar is being remote broadcast to UC Davis via internet
Steve Nadler, email@example.com
Professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Jesael "Jesa" David, firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Affairs Officer, Graduate Programs
Plant Pathology, Entomology and Nematology
Host is Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Dara, an Extension entomologist since January 2009, serves San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and is an affiliated UC IPM advisor, part of the UC Statewide IPM Program.
In his role as the strawberry and vegetable crops advisor, Dara primarily looks after pest management, but also works on disease, irrigation, weed, and nutrition management issues. As an IPM advisor, he contributes to the IPM solutions of various crops grown in California. "My research focuses on developing IPM solutions with the goal to balance the use of chemical and non-chemical alternatives for pest management," he said. He serves as a resource person for microbial control of various pests.
Dara is a member-at-large of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America; a trustee of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, and the vice chair for S1052, the national working group on improving microbial control of arthropod pests. He also chairs the UC Cooperative Extension Strawberry Working Group. In addition, Dara has served on the faculty of the University of Phoenix, California, since 2008.
The Extension advisor has written 19 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, one book chapter, 34 articles in other journals, and 117 extension articles. He has delivered several presentations worldwide. He has trained strawberry growers in India, Kosovo, Moldova, and Transnistria, and also lends his expertise to strawberry industries in a number of countries.
As a principal investigator, co-principal investigator and a collaborator of various projects, Dara has received more than $2 million in grant funding.
Dara earned both his bachelor's degree and master's degree at the Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University, India, obtaining his bachelor's degree in agricultural sciences, and his master's degree in entomology. He went on to receive his doctorate in entomology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va. in 1995.
After receiving his doctorate, Dara served as an entomopathologist from 1996-1999 for the Plant Health Management Division, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture under the United Nations Development Program, Cotonou, Republic of Benin in West Africa. He was a post-doctoral research associate from 2003-2004 with the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, and an independent software consultant, 2001-2003.
His other work experience includes assistant project scientist, 2005-2006, with the UC Davis Department of Nematology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology), and quality control manager-ISO (International Organization for Standardization) from 2006 to 2009 for Certis, USA, Wasco.
Dara's seminar will be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
Upcoming seminars are listed here.