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The metabolomic approach to improve Nellore beef tenderness: a concept of metabotype and biomarkers

Abstract

Consumer demand for high-quality meat is constantly increasing, with meat texture being the most important sensory property. This can influence the entire beef industry's profitability, and the control of meat tenderness is an important issue in animal production. advances in genomics during the last two decades and in proteomics during the last decade have brought significant advancements in the understanding of the biochemistry behind post-mortem bovine meat tenderisation. However, our understanding of meat tenderness is still poor, as consequence this quality trait can therefore only be poorly predicted and controlled. In this context metabolomics could be used as an additional complex tool to decipher tenderness metabolism, enhancing our understanding of meat tenderness variability and developing a new method for meat evaluation and biomarker discovery. In this regard, this proposed research project will evaluate the phenotype, metabolome, metaboltype and genome of Nellore male progenies from bulls with genomic information for meat tenderness, evaluated through prediction equation. Progenies will be evaluated at several times points from birth to slaughter, in order to better understanding the meat tenderness mechanism, stablish a tenderness metabotype and propose muscle/meat and blood biomarkers for tenderness prediction right after slaughter and in animal live, respectively. For this, 600 cows will be inseminated with semen from six selected bulls as three high and three low tenderness, expecting at least 40 progenies of each bull. The cows will be kept in the same system, with the same nutrition and management. After two days of birth all male calves will be evaluated, blood samples will be collected for metabolomics and genomic analysis. The animals will be kept in the same system, with the same nutrition and management. The phenotypic data will be recorded, and blood samples will be collected for metabolomics analysis at weaning, at around 540 days age, during the finishing phase and before slaughter, at around 22-24 months of age. After slaughter, carcass data will be recorded, muscle and meat will be sampled for metabolomics analysis, and meat samples will be taken for quality analysis, including sensorial and objective tenderness. The results of this study will improve our understanding of meat tenderness, creating the first tenderness metabotype database and facilitate the development of biomarkers in blood and meat to predict meat tenderness in animals live or right after slaughter, which can be applied to assist cattle breeding programs, improving animals' selection for meat tenderness, in addition to promoting the development of new assessment approaches that may have a positive impact on all parts of this production chain. (AU)

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