Silkworm (Bombyx mori) (B. mori) is an economically important insect and a model species for Lepidoptera. It has been reported that feeding of low concentrations of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) can improve feed efficiency and increase cocoon mass, cocoon shell mass, and the ratio of cocoon shell. However, high concentrations of TiO2 NPs are toxic. In this study, we fed B. mori with different concentrations of TiO2 NPs (5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 mg/L) and investigated B. mori growth, feed efficiency, and cocoon quality. We found that low concentrations of TiO2 NPs (5 and 10 mg/L) were more effective for weight gains, with significant weight gain being obtained at 72 h (P < 0.05). TiO2 NPs at 20 mg/L or higher had certain inhibitory effects, with significant inhibition to B. mori growth being observed at 48 h. The feed efficiency was significantly improved at low concentrations of 5 and 10 mg/L for 14.6 and 13.1 %, respectively (P < 0.05). All B. mori fed with TiO2 NPs showed increased cocoon mass and cocoon shell mass; at 5 and 10 mg/L TiO2 NPs, cocoon mass was significantly increased by 8.29 and 9.39 %, respectively (P < 0.05). We also found that low concentrations (5 and 10 mg/L) of TiO2 NPs promoted B. mori growth and development, improved feed efficiency, and increased cocoon production, while high concentrations (20 mg/L or higher) of TiO2 NPs showed inhibitory effect to the B. mori. Consecutive feeding of high concentrations of TiO2 NPs led to some degrees of adaptability. This study provides a reference for the research on TiO2 NPs toxicity and the basis for the development of TiO2 NPs as a feed additive for B. mori.
Keywords: Bombyx mori; Feed efficiency; The ratio of cocoon shell; TiO2 NPs.