July 16, 2008

US scientists identify genes to lower saturated fats in beef


A team of scientists in Iowa State University recently identified genes to regulate fat deposits in beef, saying that fatty deposits among ruminants are less dependent on diets.

In the ruminant animal's digestive system, enzymes released by microorganisms within the rumen break down most dietary unsaturated fatty acid and produce saturated fatty acids that are deposited in the muscle mass, said the researchers.

Donald Beitz and colleagues at Iowa State University examined three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or snips, related to fatty acid production in beef cattle.

The scientists studied the relationship between the genetic traits for high fatty acid content and the actual fat deposit in the muscle content of Angus bulls.

SNPs occur when a single nucleotide in the genome sequence is altered. Many scientists believe SNP maps may lead to the identification of multiple genes associated with animal productivity and composition.

Animal breeders can use the findings from the study to select for animals with lower deposits of saturated fat, and thereby produce a healthier product for the consumer.

Breeders may also select for cattle that contain greater monounsaturated fatty acid deposits.

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