Expression Biomarkers to Improve Pork Quality

NETHERLANDS - Complex traits, like livestock production traits, are regulated by genetic and environmental influences.
calendar icon 21 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Gene expression levels are the result of genetic capacity and environmental modulation of the genetic capacity. Therefore, the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre studied gene expression level at the RNA and protein level in Q-Porkchains, an EU FP6 funded five-year project aimed at improving pork quality by improving entire pork production chain in the EU.

Q-Porkchains aims at improving the pork quality of both general large production chains and small local pork production chains. At ABGC, we investigated gene expression levels in relation to fresh pork production (general large production system) and in relation to dry cured ham production (local Spanish production chain). Modern “omics“ technologies investigating all RNA and proteins in muscle tissue were used. Several potential biomarkers at the RNA and protein level were found.

In a separate project funded by the Dutch Agricultural Ministry, the road from potential biomarker detection to innovation by the industry was investigated. The first steps of this multi-step process are now being taken. Six out of seven potential RNA biomarkers could be verified using a different technique. The verification of the protein biomarkers is still ongoing.

At present, an internationally prepared validation round of biomarkers using highly characterized standard samples is starting. During the first half year of 2011, it will become clear which biomarkers can be used by the industry. New technologies enabling the detection of biomarkers without the need of a laboratory are expected to become available in 2011. In 2011 and perhaps 2012, consortium industries will prepare to test the new biomarkers. Important innovations for the pork production chain lie ahead.

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