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科学美国人60秒: 昆虫很美味

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Edible Insect Breeding Led to Larger but Not Necessarily Better Larvae

昆虫很美味

A pound of chicken will set you back a couple bucks. Ground beef, maybe three to four dollars a pound. But a pound of protein-rich dried mealworms could cost twice as much.

一磅鸡肉要花你几美元。碎牛肉,大概3到4美元一磅。但是一磅富含蛋白质的面粉虫的价格可能是其两倍。

"The price per pound of mealworms is still relatively expensive." Juan A. Morales-Ramos is a research entomologist with the USDA in Stoneville, Mississippi. But he says that cost might be coming down.

“相对而言,每磅面粉虫的价格仍然很昂贵。”Juan a . Morales-Ramos是美国农业部在密西西比州斯通维尔的昆虫学家。但他表示,花费可能会下降。

For eight years, he and his team have selectively bred mealworms, which are the larvae of a type of darkling beetle. Their goal was to breed larger and larger worms - and they succeeded in nearly doubling the size of the larvae. But doubling up came with an evolutionary tradeoff: larger larvae had fewer eggs, and their offspring weren't as hardy as the ancestral strain.

八年来,他和团队选择性地培育面粉虫,这是一种深色甲虫的幼虫。他们的目标是培育出越来越大的蠕虫——他们成功地将幼虫的大小增加了近一倍。但在进化的权衡下,繁殖后代的数量增加了一倍:体型较大的幼虫卵更少,而后代不像祖先那么耐寒。

Still, generations are shorter in the worm world—meaning it's faster to experiment—and sequencing the genes of the selected strains might reveal new traits to breed for.

尽管如此,蠕虫世界的世代更短,这意味着实验更快,而且对所选菌株的基因进行测序可能揭示出需要繁殖的新特性。

"We may be able to produce a superline of mealworms that grow faster and larger and probably produce more eggs, hopefully." The findings are in The Journal of Insect Science.

“我们或许能够培育出一种超级粉虫,这种虫生长得更快、更大,而且很有可能产更多的卵,希望如此。”这项研究结果发表在《昆虫科学》杂志上。

The eventual goal is to bring mealworms beyond fishing bait. If the cost comes down, they'd be an economical protein source for farmed fish, and chicken feeds. And one recent study rated them as significantly healthier than beef or chicken—for a human diet. Other cultures are leading the way.

最终的目标是将粉虱带离鱼饵。如果成本降低,它们将成为养殖鱼类和鸡饲料的经济蛋白质来源。最近的一项研究表明,在人类饮食中,它们明显比牛肉或鸡肉更健康。其他饮食文化正在引领潮流。

"There are many cultures not just in Mexico but in Asia and Africa that regularly consume different types of insects. They sell them in the market. In Mexico there are restaurants that specialize in serving insects. And I'm not talking just regular restaurants, these are like five star restaurants doing that."

“不仅在墨西哥,亚洲和非洲也有许多文化饮食定期食用不同种类的昆虫。人们在市场上卖昆虫。墨西哥有专门供应昆虫的餐馆。我说的不只是普通的餐厅,这些餐厅就像五星级餐厅一样。”

Of course, here in the US we also eat insects. But in the near future we might do it on purpose.

当然,在美国我们也吃昆虫。但在不久的将来,我们会有意为之。

Edible Insect Breeding Led to Larger but Not Necessarily Better Larvae

A pound of chicken will set you back a couple bucks. Ground beef, maybe three to four dollars a pound. But a pound of protein-rich dried mealworms could cost twice as much.

"The price per pound of mealworms is still relatively expensive." Juan A. Morales-Ramos is a research entomologist with the USDA in Stoneville, Mississippi. But he says that cost might be coming down.

For eight years, he and his team have selectively bred mealworms, which are the larvae of a type of darkling beetle. Their goal was to breed larger and larger worms - and they succeeded in nearly doubling the size of the larvae. But doubling up came with an evolutionary tradeoff: larger larvae had fewer eggs, and their offspring weren't as hardy as the ancestral strain.

Still, generations are shorter in the worm world—meaning it's faster to experiment—and sequencing the genes of the selected strains might reveal new traits to breed for.

"We may be able to produce a superline of mealworms that grow faster and larger and probably produce more eggs, hopefully." The findings are in The Journal of Insect Science.

The eventual goal is to bring mealworms beyond fishing bait. If the cost comes down, they'd be an economical protein source for farmed fish, and chicken feeds. And one recent study rated them as significantly healthier than beef or chicken—for a human diet. Other cultures are leading the way.

"There are many cultures not just in Mexico but in Asia and Africa that regularly consume different types of insects. They sell them in the market. In Mexico there are restaurants that specialize in serving insects. And I'm not talking just regular restaurants, these are like five star restaurants doing that."

Of course, here in the US we also eat insects. But in the near future we might do it on purpose.


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