Insect Meals and Insect Antimicrobial Peptides as an Alternative for Antibiotics and Growth Promoters in Livestock Production

Pathogens. 2023 Jun 20;12(6):854. doi: 10.3390/pathogens12060854.


The extensive use of antibiotics in animal production has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and the search for alternative antimicrobial agents in animal production. One such compound may be antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are characterized by, among others, a wide range of biocidal activity. According to scientific data, insects produce the largest number of antimicrobial peptides, and the changing EU legislation has allowed processed animal protein derived from insects to be used in feed for farm animals, which, in addition to a protein supplement, may prove to be an alternative to antibiotics and antibiotic growth promoters due to their documented beneficial impact on livestock health. In animals that were fed feeds with the addition of insect meals, changes in their intestinal microbiota, strengthened immunity, and increased antibacterial activity were confirmed to be positive effects obtained thanks to the insect diet. This paper reviews the literature on sources of antibacterial peptides and the mechanism of action of these compounds, with particular emphasis on insect antibacterial peptides and their potential impact on animal health, and legal regulations related to the use of insect meals in animal nutrition.

Keywords: Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/893; antimicrobial peptides (AMPs); cecropins; defensins; glycine-rich peptides; insects; livestock health; mode of action; moricins; proline-rich peptides.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the National Veterinary Research Institute in Pulawy, Poland.