DNA markers for improved meat

American pork producers now have access to genetic markers associated with growth, leanness and meat quality.

Researchers at Iowa State University have signed an agreement with a Nebraska firm to license the use of four tested and commercially validated DNA markers.

The first marker controls growth and leanness, allowing producers and breeders to choose from a 'fast' growth or a 'lean/efficient' growth form of the gene, translating into an average of three days less to market weight for some animals.

Other markers allow producers and breeders to select those animals likely to produce more tender meat and improved meat quality, as well as those likely to be leaner and produce leaner offspring.

The effect of the genes can be maximized by using them in combination, according to the National Pork Board, which sponsors research to support development of additional genomic technologies for the pork industry.

Current research also includes a study of the ability of pigs to resist or better tolerate disease agents, specifically porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.

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