Meet an Ecology PhD-student: Carina Desirée Heussler

From Waste to Feed - Waste products as a source of protein-rich feedstuff
black soldier fly
Bild: Black Soldier Fly (Credit: Wolfgang Dibiasi)


Carina D. Heussler is PhD-candidate and a member of the Molecular Ecology group, headed by Birgit C. Schlick-Steiner and the Microbial Resource Management Group, headed by Heribert Insam. She finished her master thesis at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, titled “Identifying the minimum number of microsatellite loci needed to assess population genetic structure: A case study in fly culturing”. During her master thesis Carina gathered experience in the cultivation of flies and several molecular techniques, like creating and working with microsatellite markers, PCR, Q-PCR, gel-electrophoresis and DNA extraction. Currently Carina is working on her PhD-Thesis regarding  the ecology of  Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, and its potential as a biological waste management agent. She started to work in the project funded by the FWF“From Waste to Feed: Waste products as a source of protein-rich feedstuff” in 2015 and is responsible for the cultivation of the Black soldier flies (  


As human population is expanding, waste management is becoming more challenging. A new method for this matter is composting using insect larvae digestion.

Black Soldier Fly larvae

The black soldier fly is interesting for manure management, as it can reduce the amount of organic waste by 42-56%, and can produce economically high quantities of larval feedstuff for a variety of animals, including several fish species, swine, and poultry.


Prepupae have unique nutritious qualities, like essential fatty acids, additionally prepupae are able of self-harvesting by natural migration for pupation.

Black Soldier Fly pupae

 Hence the many applications of the black soldier fly, many studies have been conducted on this fly, but to the best of our knowledge, all studies conducted either used larvae or adults from wild populations, or studies were conducted partially outside or in greenhouse with sunlight in tropical or warm-tempered sites. As flies cannot survive and develop in cold tempered regions, we want to engineer a new system, where flies will be solely kept Indoors, with controllable temperature and humidity (27 °C and 60 %, respectively), and artificial light, to enable indoor-rearing, and to use the many applications of black soldier flies in cold-tempered regions.

Together with Andreas Walter and Thomas Klammsteiner, Carina is contributing in designing and conducting several BSF experiments, analyzing data and publishing the results.


Carina Heussler



Carina D. Heussler

Molecular Ecology Group




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