Genetic analysis of beef fatty acid composition predicted by near-infrared spectroscopy

A. Cecchinato, M. de Marchi, M. Penasa, J. Casellas, S. Schiavon, G. Bittante

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The aims of this study were 1) to investigate the potential application of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to predict intramuscular fat (IMF) and fatty acid (FA) composition of individual meat samples, 2) to estimate heritability of IMF and FA NIRS-based predictions, and 3) to assess the statistical relevance of the genetic background of such predictions by using the Bayes factor (BF) procedure. Young Piemontese bulls (n = 1,298) were raised and fattened on 124 farms, and slaughtered at the same commercial abattoir. Intramuscular fat content and FA composition were analyzed on a random subset of 148 samples of minced and homogenized longissimus thoracis muscle. Near-infrared spectroscopy spectra were collected on all samples (n = 1,298) in reflectance mode between 1,100 and 2,498 nm (every 2 nm) using fresh minced meat samples. Calibration models developed from the random subset of 148 samples were used to predict IMF and FA contents of the remaining 1,150 samples. Intramuscular fat content and FA predictions were analyzed under a Bayesian univariate animal linear models, and the statistical relevance of heritability estimates was assessed through BF; the model with polygenic additive effects was favored when BF > 1. In general, satisfactory results (R2 > 0.60) were obtained for 6 out of the 8 major FA (C14:0, C:16:0, C16:1, C18:0, C18:1n-9 cis/ trans, and C18:1n-11 trans), 6 out of the 19 minor FA (C10:0, C12:0, C17:0, C17:1, C18:2 cis-9,trans-11, and C20:2), and the total SFA, MUFA, and PUFA. Bayes factors between models with and without a genetic component provided values greater than 1 for IMF, C14:0, C16:0, C18:1n-9 cis/trans, C17:0, C17:1, C20:2, SFA, MUFA, and PUFA. The greatest BF was reached by C20:2 (BF >10), suggesting strong evidence of genetic determinism, whereas IMF, C18:1n-9 cis/trans, C17:0, C17:1, MUFA, and PUFA showed substantial evidence favoring the numerator model (3.16 < BF < 10). Point estimates of heritabilities for FA predicted by NIRS were low to moderate (0.07 to 0.21). Results support that NIRS is a useful technique to satisfactorily predict some FA of meat. The existence of an important genetic determinism affecting FA profile has been confirmed, suggesting that FA composition of meat can be genetically modified. © 2012 American Society of Animal Science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-438
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • Bayes factor
  • Fatty acid
  • Heritability
  • Meat
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Piemontese


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