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Genetic Markers to Improve Meat Quality

11 August 2014

Researchers in Mexico have developed search tools that allow the selection of cattle to identify the most productive to help improve the cattle sector.

beef geneticsSpecialists at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) identified through DNA markers which Charolais populations have differences in the frequency of alleles, which genes are associated with enhanced meat quality in terms of smoothness and marbling score and which are the genes denoting the intramuscular fat of these cattle.

The research carried out in the Centre of Biotechnology Genomics (CEBIOGEN) in Tamaulipas, by Dr Ana Maria Sifuentes Rincon, has focused on the genetics and molecular characterisation of different breeds of cattle.

"Genetic improvement can be accomplished by selection between races, inter-racial and cross,” said Dr Sifuentes Rincon.

“We searched tools that allow regional producers of livestock to select and identify the most productive, having greater genetic and meat quality as well as cost-effectiveness to improve the breed copies potential.”

charolais beefMolecular markers serve to identify one region in the bovine genome that are associated with features of interest and are used as molecular diagnostic tools to identify genes for meat quality, genetic predisposition to disease and disease resistance.

The polytechnic researcher added that this step of research has already been completed in different populations of registered Charolais cattle, which were chosen because, according to the production chain in the country, breeding begins in pure breeds and complex traits focus on the quality of the meat.

"In the livestock industry, target identification is essential to foster the establishment of breeding strategies.

“Livestock and meat quality is critical because it depends on the marketing. As the quality of meat includes sensory characteristics: tenderness, juiciness, colour, nutritional value and health traits, it is important for the implementation of a strategy to encompass each one, because it sometimes involves assessment right up to slaughter, " said Dr Sifuentes Rincón.

Much of the application of genomic studies in beef cattle has focused on finding the regions where the genetic material whose variation can be predicted for these main characteristics.

Mexican beef researchAnd through a DNA test is it possible to discover the genotype of each animal, whether favourable aspects or carrying no variations.

The CEBIOGEN specialist said that in these livestock populations, marker-assisted management functions were used to determine the genetic potential of animals. All these should be genotyped.

Currently in Mexico selection criteria based on growth characteristics is used, but not for the quality and meat production.

"The paternity test was applied to identify breeding bulls with offspring in order to know which are the most productive and select them for future generations."

However, the health of the cattle can also be identified and it can be determine which species are carriers of genetic diseases.

This work also identified what "evidence" there is to allow scientists to "predict" and which issue has the potential to be more or less productive.

July 2014

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