Appearance, flavor, and texture attributes of pig dry-cured hams have a complex polygenic genomic architecture

R. N. Pena, D. Gallardo, M. D. Guàrdia, J. Reixach, J. Arnau, M. Amills, R. Quintanilla

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10 Citations (Scopus)


The influence that the genetics of species used as food sources has on the human perception of sensory attributes has been rarely addressed in previous studies. Dry-cured hams are high-quality highly appreciated pork products obtained by salting, curing, drying, and aging processes. We performed a QTL scan for 17 sensory attributes (including appearance, taste, flavor, and texture) and the overall liking evaluated by a panel of trained tasters in both semimembranosus (SM) and biceps femoris (BF) muscles of dry-cured hams from pigs raised in identical nutrition and management conditions. The QTL scan yielded a large array of chromosome- and genomewide QTL, reflecting the complex polygenic architecture of these traits. Among them, 6 QTL affecting SM flavor attributes (aged, matured, sweetness, and umami), 7 QTL associated to SM texture defects (adhesiveness and pastiness), and a single QTL for appearance (BF color intensity) reached the genomewide significant threshold. Discrepancies were observed between the BF and SM QTL maps, probably due to the differential drying and ripening rates determined by the external (SM) vs. internal (BF) location of each muscle. Within muscle, a certain degree of pleiotropy is supported by QTL co-localization for flavor (aged, matured, and sweet) or texture (such as pastiness and adhesiveness defects caused by excessive proteolysis) attributes. On the whole, QTL for overall sensory liking tended to co-localize with aged and matured QTL. Several functional candidate genes involved in the biochemical processes that shape flavor and texture attributes, such as ANPEP, LIPE, LIPA, MEP1B, and MMP28, co-localized with QTL hotspots. These results demonstrate that genetic factors of the pig influence the perception of the sensory attributes generated during dry-cured ham processing and represent a first contribution to elucidate which genetic factors may modulate the sensory properties of dry-cured hams. © 2013 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1058
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • Dry-cured ham
  • Pig
  • Product quality
  • Quantitative trait locus
  • Sensory attributes


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