Genetic correlation estimates between beef fatty acid profile with meat and carcass traits in Nellore cattle finished in feedlot
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The objective of this study was to estimate the genetic-quantitative relationships between the beef fatty acid profile with the carcass and meat traits of Nellore cattle. A total of 1826 bulls finished in feedlot conditions and slaughtered at 24 months of age on average were used. The following carcass and meat traits were analysed: subcutaneous fat thickness (BF), shear force (SF) and total intramuscular fat (IMF). The fatty acid (FA) profile of the Longissimus thoracis samples was determined. Twenty-five FAs (18 individuals and seven groups of FAs) were selected due to their importance for human health. The animals were genotyped with the BovineHD BeadChip and, after quality control for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), only 470,007 SNPs from 1556 samples remained. The model included the random genetic additive direct effect, the fixed effect of the contemporary group and the animal's slaughter age as a covariable. The (co)variances and genetic parameters were estimated using the REML method, considering an animal model (single-step GBLUP). A total of 25 multi-trait analyses, with four traits, were performed considering SF, BF and IMF plus each individual FA. The heritability estimates for individual saturated fatty acids (SFA) varied from 0.06 to 0.65, for monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) it varied from 0.02 to 0.14 and for polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) it ranged from 0.05 to 0.68. The heritability estimates for Omega 3, Omega 6, SFA, MUFA and PUFA sum were low to moderate, varying from 0.09 to 0.20. The carcass and meat traits, SF (0.06) and IMF (0.07), had low heritability estimates, while BF (0.17) was moderate. The genetic correlation estimates between SFA sum, MUFA sum and PUFA sum with BF were 0.04, 0.64 and -0.41, respectively. The genetic correlation estimates between SFA sum, MUFA sum and PUFA sum with SF were 0.29, -0.06 and -0.04, respectively. The genetic correlation estimates between SFA sum, MUFA sum and PUFA sum with IMF were 0.24, 0.90 and -0.67, respectively. The selection to improve meat tenderness in Nellore cattle should not change the fatty acid composition in beef, so it is possible to improve this attribute without affecting the nutritional beef quality in zebu breeds. However, selection for increased deposition of subcutaneous fat thickness and especially the percentage of intramuscular fat should lead to changes in the fat composition, highlighting a genetic antagonism between meat nutritional value and acceptability by the consumer.
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