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The Black Soldier Fly (BSF, Hermetia illucens) is an efficient decomposer of many types of organic waste and play an important part in bioconversion. The maggots fed with waste products can be used as fish or poultry food. The BSF is native in Neotropical areas, and has spread across continents both by natural dispersal (Marshall et al. 2015) and by human introduction (Kaya et al. 2021).  


Process of the digestion of a sandwich by a captive BSF population. Video by Tom Generalovic. 

We are interested in the genetics and evolution of this species. In recent years, we have sequenced a high-quality chromosome-level BSF reference genome (Generalovic et al. 2021), and developed an artificially selected strain with significantly larger and heritable body size. We have shown rapid genomic responses and repeatable phenotypic changes during artificial selection process. Collaborating with our industrial partner company Better Origin, we are investigating the genomic basis and regulatory mechanisms of trait variations and exploring the effects of genetic modifications on these traits.  

Our current research themes include:  

1) Genetic and regulatory basis of trait variation  

2) Genetic modifications on selected traits  

3) Selective breeding for strain improvements 

4) Outcome and industrial implications of inbreeding and hybridization 

5) Diversification and evolutionary history of wild populations 



Generalovic TN, McCarthy SA, Warren IA, Wood JMD, Torrance J, Sims Y, Quail M, Howe K, Pipan M, Durbin R, et al. 2021. A high-quality, chromosome-level genome assembly of the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens L.). G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 11. 

Kaya C, Generalovic TN, Ståhls G, Hauser M, Samayoa AC, Nunes-Silva CG, Roxburgh H, Wohlfahrt J, Ewusie EA, Kenis M, et al. 2021. Global population genetic structure and demographic trajectories of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens. BMC Biology 19:1–39.