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Immune Defenses of a Beneficial Pest: The Mealworm Beetle, Tenebrio molitor

Authors
  • Vigneron, Aurélien1
  • Jehan, Charly2
  • Rigaud, Thierry2
  • Moret, Yannick2
  • 1 Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT , (United States)
  • 2 UMR CNRS 6282 BioGéoSciences, Équipe Écologie Évolutive, Université Bourgogne-Franche Comté, Dijon , (France)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Physiology
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Mar 12, 2019
Volume
10
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00138
PMID: 30914960
PMCID: PMC6422893
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

The mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor , is currently considered as a pest when infesting stored grains or grain products. However, mealworms are now being promoted as a beneficial insect because their high nutrient content makes them a viable food source and because they are capable of degrading polystyrene and plastic waste. These attributes make T. molitor attractive for mass rearing, which may promote disease transmission within the insect colonies. Disease resistance is of paramount importance for both the control and the culture of mealworms, and several biotic and abiotic environmental factors affect the success of their anti-parasitic defenses, both positively and negatively. After providing a detailed description of T. molitor ’s anti-parasitic defenses, we review the main biotic and abiotic environmental factors that alter their presentation, and we discuss their implications for the purpose of controlling the development and health of this insect.

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