Research: Beef tenderness ‘molecular signatures’ revealed in biomarker study

Beef Central, 07/10/2020

GROUND-BREAKING analysis has led to the publication of the world’s most robust set of beef tenderness biomarkers and major molecular signatures.

Dr Mohammed Gagaoua from the food quality and sensory science department at Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) led the research team, which included collaboration with meat scientists at the University of Melbourne and NSW DPI Centre for Red Meat and Sheep Development, together with others in France, Spain, Argentina and the US.

As well as revealing the main molecular signatures contributing to beef tenderness, the research has also provided key insights into the interconnectedness among various pathways and processes in the muscle, which are pivotal in producing high quality beef, Dr Gagaoua said.

Many large datasets had been generated in the quest to identify molecular signatures for meat tenderness, designed to lead to the development of a management system for guaranteed beef tenderness. However, due to variations in experimental approaches across the world (cattle type, age at slaughter, feed history etc) in generating these datasets, there was a need for a holistic and integrative study to integrate and interrogate large and complex datasets, the project summary said.

Using an ‘integromics’ approach, Dr Gagaoua’s work is the first of its kind and has provided clarity on the most consistently and robustly identified biomarkers for beef tenderness.

It gathered data from 28 independent experiments worldwide, initially identifying a comprehensive list of 124 biomarkers. From these, the authors shortlisted a panel of 33 robust candidates worthy of evaluation to develop future meat tenderness predictive tools.

“This study has revealed the relevance in the order of importance of muscle contractile and structure proteins, energy metabolism proteins, response to stress proteins and oxidative stress proteins in the determination of beef tenderness,” Dr Gagaoua said.

Co-author Dr Anne Maria Mullen said while many advances had been realised in improving beef eating quality, unexplained variation remained.

“This integromics approach has been pivotal in identifying the most important and relevant molecular targets to advance our knowledge and lead to the development of systems for guaranteeing beef tenderness,” she said.

Another co-author, Declan Troy, assistant director of research at Teagasc, highlighted the value in the research in bringing together vast studies in an applications-focused manner to address gaps in knowledge and technology to “greatly increase the efficiency of the beef industry… on a global level.”

“This study has the potential to be of tremendous value to the beef industry worldwide,” he said.


The publication on the biomarkers of beef tenderness was published in Meat Science. Click here to access the full report.









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  1. Richard Sellers, 07/10/2020

    Is this the death of MSA?

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