Biochemical Analyses and Nutritional Content of Four Castes of Subterranean Termites, Macrotermes subhyalinus (Rambur) (Isoptera: Termitidae): Differences in Digestibility and Anti-nutrient Contents among Castes

  •  O. Ajayi    


Termite is used in many parts of the world but little is known about their biochemical properties and nutritional value as food. Protein digestibility and anti-nutrients of four castes (queen, worker, soldier and winged (alate)) of subterranean termite, Macrotermes subhyalinus were determined to evaluate the protein bioavailability and confirm nutritional value as food for human and animal consumption. Physico-chemical properties of the oil of each caste were also determined to reveal the potential uses of the oil and its stability in storage using standard analytical methods. The queen was the most easily digestible (84.72%) of the castes while the soldier was the least with a digestibility value 81.10%. The queen was significantly more digestible than the other castes. In general, all the four castes have low anti-nutrient (oxalate, phytate and tannin) values. Among the castes, worker has significantly higher anti-nutrient levels than the other castes. In general, worker and soldier have relatively higher digestibility values and significantly higher anti-nutrient contents as well as relatively higher values for most of the physico-chemical parameters tested, suggesting that they are the least edible caste. Overall, the results showed that all four castes of M. subhyalinus have very low levels of anti-nutrients tested for, are easily digested and produce edible oil. These findings confirm that all four castes of M. subhyalinus, and possibly other termite species, are safe for human and animal consumption, and therefore recommended for inclusion in human foods and livestock feeds.

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