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A joint doctoral program to educate tomorrow’s insect pathologists: Solving disease problems in the upcoming insect rearing industry.

Project description

Mass insect breeding requires trained scientists to manage pathogen outbreaks

Since the First Agricultural Revolution around 12 000 years ago, people have been cultivating crops and breeding animals for human benefit. The emergence of pathogens and diseases in cultivated species poses a risk of economic loss to farmers as well as disease spread to humans. 'Mad cow disease' and the bird flu are a couple of recent examples. As the world turns to large-scale breeding of insects as an alternative to meat and a route to greener pest control and waste management, a large gap exists in understanding insect pathology and the ecosystems created by large-scale insect rearing. INSECT DOCTORS is training young researchers in relevant technologies and science to manage insect-microbe interactions in mass insect breeding.


Mass rearing of insects is a rapidly expanding industry due to improved mechanisation and increasing interest in the use of insects for a variety of purposes, such as sterile insect techniques, food and feed, waste management, and biocontrol of insect pest species. However, expertise is urgently needed to address emerging problems with infectious disease outbreaks in mass reared insects. Therefore, we propose the INSECT DOCTORS joint doctoral programme to build a durable European framework to educate experts in insect pathology in order to overcome the shortage in properly educated experts in Europe, and beyond. The research of INSECT DOCTORS will expand our understanding of emerging pathogens and will provide necessary tools for disease management in industrial insect rearing. The complementary expertise of the participating institutes and companies leads to an ambitious and exciting programme, providing interdisciplinary training and research in pertinent areas of insect pathology (bacteriology, mycology, virology) and entomology (immunology, physiology). In an overarching training program, novel advanced courses will provide students with technical, scientific and transferable skills. This interdisciplinary approach, crucial to provide insight in the complexity of insect-microbe interactions in a range of farmed insects, can only be achieved by joining forces between European universities. Furthermore, this joint doctoral programme aims to build durable partnerships for doctoral training in insect pathology, thereby overcoming national and interdisciplinary boundaries in doctoral research. By requiring equal excellence from all participants in this training programme we will contribute to high level PhD education across Europe. In short: INSECT DOCTORS will provide the durable framework, the people, the scientific knowledge and the tools to assist the upcoming insect industry to diagnose and mitigate infectious diseases in their mass reared insects cultures.


Net EU contribution
€ 796 859,64
6708 PB Wageningen

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Oost-Nederland Gelderland Veluwe
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 796 859,64

Participants (8)