Since 2020, the 15 PhD students have been trained and are developing knowledge, technical skills, and tools required to diagnose and manage infectious disease problems in commercial insect production systems. These PhD students are being prepared to become future insect pathologists who can effectively address the challenges posed by diseases in the insect rearing industry. The symposium served as a platform for the students to engage in exchanges and discussions regarding their research by preparing group presentations on three distinct topics to present to the consortium. The topics were selected with consideration to their relevance and usefulness for the stakeholders involved in the symposium, with the focus of the presentations revolving around three key areas: how to detect pathogens, insect responses to pathogens and the role of the gut microbiota in insect health.
Monique Van Oers (WUR, NL) made a general presentation of the Insect Doctors project followed by talks from invited speakers. Lydie Canier from the IFREMER presented how diseases and diagnoses in oyster rearing are managed, which could inspire solutions for insect producers. There were also talks from Chrysantus Tanga (icipe, Kenya) on the insights on regenerative insect farming in Africa, Nathan Peteseille (co-founder AFFIA) on the Asian perspectives in the insects as food and feed (IFF) industry, David Giron (CNRS, Fr) on developing the IFF sector at the regional scale, Samir Mezdour (AgroParisTech, Fr) on insect processing for food and feed and finally professor Joop van Loon (WUR, NL) on waste bioconversion by Black Soldier Fly.
With some of the PhD students nearing graduation, it was also an important opportunity to connect with members from different companies, especially via a speed networking session organised by Nicolai Vitt Meyling (University of Copenhagen, DK). In all, the symposium served as a platform for sharing research findings, insights, and innovative approaches in the field. The event provided an opportunity to foster close interactions between researchers and insect producers, promoting successful outcomes for the industry.