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Limousin Gene Discovery Pinpoints Trait Benefits

14 October 2008

AUSTRALIA - A gene which increases the weight of prime cuts by 19% and overall beef yield by 7% has been discovered by researchers at Adelaide University in Australia.

The gene, a modification of the myostatin gene called F94L, is shown to occur with high frequency in Limousin cattle but with very low frequencies in other breeds, reports the Britsh Livestock Genetics Consortium.


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"The F94L gene also causes a 20% reduction in intramuscular fat and a 30% reduction in external fat cover resulting in healthier beef and higher yields of retail beef from each carcase,"
Adelaide University team leader, Dr Wayne Pitchford

Adelaide University team leader, Dr Wayne Pitchford, said the research showed exciting results with the gene increasing the amount of prime cuts in the carcase by as much as 19%. "Animals with two copies of the gene consume the same amount of feed as animals with no copies of the gene so they are much more efficient at producing beef" he said.

Dr Pitchford said the gene also increases tenderness. "Using the laboratory shear force test, meat from animals with two copies of the gene required 11% less force to cut a sample of the eye round muscle compared to animals with no copies of the gene. "The amount of force required to cut the loin muscle from animals with two copies of the gene was 6% less than the force to cut the loin muscle from animals with no copies of the gene.

"The F94L gene also causes a 20% reduction in intramuscular fat and a 30% reduction in external fat cover resulting in healthier beef and higher yields of retail beef from each carcase," Dr Pitchford said. The testing has revealed that the frequency of the gene in purebred Limousins is 98.3% which means that almost all purebred Limousins carry two copies of the gene.

Of 15 other breeds tested in the research, conducted on a sample base of 1081 unrelated cattle, the F94L gene was only found in very low frequencies. The next highest frequency recorded in a breed was 3%. Dr Diane Vankan of the University of Queensland, who presented these findings at the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) Conference held in Holland in May this year, concluded that: "F94L is found almost exclusively in the Limousin breed."

The research also notes that the F94L gene is not the same modification of the myostatin gene which causes double muscling in breeds such as the Belgian Blue. The Adelaide University research showed that the F94L variation of the myostatin gene does not have any deleterious effects on birth weight or calving difficulty.

British Limousin Cattle Society Chief Executive, Iain Kerr, said the discovery of the gene which explains the unique ability of the Limousin breed to produce higher yields of tender, lean beef was exciting news. "This research will be welcomed by commercial beef producers who are concentrated on maximising efficiency and performance against costs of production," he said and added that a commercial test for the F94L gene is now available in the UK through Igenity.

Results of the Adelaide University research into the F94L gene have been published in the prestigious scientific journals Animal Genetics and Meat Science.

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