Insect-Derived Enzymes: A Treasure for Industrial Biotechnology and Food Biotechnology

  • Nicole Mika
  • Holger Zorn
  • Martin Rühl
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 136)


Insects are the most diverse group of organisms on earth, colonizing almost every ecological niche of the planet. To survive in various and sometimes extreme habitats, insects have established diverse biological and chemical systems. Core components of these systems are enzymes that enable the insects to feed on diverse nutrient sources. The enzymes are produced by either the insects themselves (homologous) or by symbiotic organisms located in the insects’ bodies or in their nests (heterologous). The use of these insect-associated enzymes for applications in the fields of food biotechnology and industrial (white) biotechnology is gaining more and more interest. Prominent examples of insect-derived enzymes include peptidases, amylases, lipases, and β-d-glucosidases. Highly potent peptidases for the degradation of gluten , a storage protein that can cause intestinal disorders, may be received from grain pests . Several insects, such as bark and ambrosia beetles and termites, are able to feed on wood. In the field of white biotechnology, their cellulolytic enzyme systems of mainly endo-1,4-β-d-glucanases and β-d-glucosidases can be employed for saccharification of the most prominent polymer on earth—cellulose.

Graphical Abstract


Beetles Gluten Grain pests Hydrolases 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Food Chemistry and Food BiotechnologyJustus Liebig University GiessenGiessenGermany

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