Irish researchers have identified genetic traits in pigs that can be used to ensure the tastiest, healthiest pigmeat is delivered to consumers.
The NUIG, Teagasc and UCD researchers have developed advanced molecular techniques that link specific pig genes/proteins with meat quality traits such as drip loss, tenderness and intramuscular fat.
Detailed meat quality measurements were performed on samples from each animal (pH, colour, drip loss, tenderness, [shear force], fatty acid profile, etc). Samples were taken for DNA, RNA and proteomic analysis to accurately represent the state of muscle tissue at the time of slaughter.
Together with Professor Torres Sweeney’s research team in UCD, the NUIG and Teagasc researchers shortlisted a panel of the most interesting candidate genes, which were sequenced to discover new genetic variation which may be influencing quality. This led to the identification of nearly 200 novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in the Irish pig herd.
The most promising 85 of these SNPs were tested for association with meat quality traits in larger purebred populations and many novel associations were found between these SNPs and a variety of meat quality traits.
Friday, October 21, 2011/ The Irish Examiner/ Ireland.