Genetic parameter estimation for sensory traits in longissimus muscle and their association with pH and intramuscular fat in pork chops

Citation

Lei, H., Valente, T.S., Zhang, C., Das, C., Wismer, W.V., Wang, Z., Li, C., Kemp, R.A., Charagu, P., Plastow, G.S., Bruce, H.L. (2020). Genetic parameter estimation for sensory traits in longissimus muscle and their association with pH and intramuscular fat in pork chops. Livestock Science, [online] 238 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2020.104080

Plain language summary

Meat quality sensory traits are key factors that drive consumers’ willingness to pay a premium when purchasing pork chops. However, sensory traits or eating satisfaction are difficult to measure in comparison to carcass pH and intramuscular fat. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if meat sensory traits can be improved via genetic section on carcass pH and intramuscular fat. As the response of meat sensory traits to genetic selection of carcass pH and intramuscular fat depends on their heritability and genetic correlations, these genetic parameters need to be estimated in order to facilitate the genetic selection. In this study, heritability of meat sensory traits and their genetic correlations with carcass pH and intramuscular fat were estimated using a sample of 784 crossbred commercial pigs. The results showed a low heritability (< 0.2) for all measured sensory traits including overall texture, texture, juiciness , overall flavour, overall opinion, and similar to ideal. Positive genetic correlations of sensory measurements with carcass pH and intramuscular fat were found, indicating that selection to improve intramuscular pH and fat can help increase meat sensory scores as well. However, as the genetic correlations were low to moderate (0.16 to 0.54), increase in pork sensory scores through selection for loin pH and intramuscular fat content would be slow. However, the results should be interpreted with caution due to the relatively small sample size used.

Abstract

Consumers’ willingness to pay a premium when purchasing pork chops is driven by eating satisfaction. Genetic parameters for sensory traits and their associations with pH and intramuscular fat were estimated in pork chops. A univariate animal model was used to estimate the heritability of the sensory traits in ASReml using pedigree information, while phenotypic and genetic correlations were estimated using a bivariate animal model. Low heritability (h2 < 0.2) was found for all measured sensory traits, and genetic correlations estimated between sensory traits and pH were smaller than that estimated between intramuscular fat and sensory traits. Positive genetic correlations of sensory measurements with pH and intramuscular fat were found, indicating that selection to increase intramuscular pH and fat can help to increase sensory scores. However, as the genetic correlations were low to moderate, increase in pork sensory scores through selection for loin pH and intramuscular fat content would be slow, and because of the small sample size, the results should be interpreted with caution.

Publication date

2020-08-01

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