Genetic Testing Helps Single Out Leanness Gene
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Ben Hardin, (309) 681-6597, email@example.com
June 22, 1999
Genetic testing of cattle may soon help breeders plan sure-bet matings to
make production more efficient and ensure consumers get lean but tender
The key to this approach, according to Agricultural Research Service
scientists, involves raising cattle with just one copy of a gene called
inactive myostatin. Before birth, a calf with no copies of the inactive form
produces a protein that limits the animal's potential to produce lean beef.
ARS scientists at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center
(MARC), Clay Center, Neb., found that carcasses from cattle with one
inactive myostatin gene typically yield about 7 percent more edible lean
beef than those from cattle without the gene. And the untrimmed carcasses
have 14 percent less overall fat.
A calf with two copies of inactive myostatin is extremely muscular in the
hind quarters. That condition, called "double muscling," is undesirable
because birth assistance is often needed.
So the goal would be to produce slaughter animals with only one inactive
copy of the gene. To do that and plan matings for herd replacements,
breeders could use a genetic test to determine which forms of the genes
animals have. Last fall, ARS and Celera AgGen, a PE Corporation business,
entered a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to develop
a genetic test aimed for commercial use.
MARC research shows that cattle with the inactive myostatin produce beef
with less marbling, or intramuscular fat, as well as less fat outside of
muscle. But in this case, less marbling doesn't always mean less tender. The
scientists expect to pinpoint numerous genes that together control
ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. An
article about the beef leanness gene appears in the June issue of
Agricultural Research magazine. The article is also online at:
Scientific contacts: Timothy P. Smith, ARS Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal
Research Center, Clay Center, Neb., phone (402) 762-4366, fax (402)
762-4390, firstname.lastname@example.org; Paul Gilman, Celera Genomics, Rockville,
Md., phone (240) 453-3302, fax (240) 453-3650, email@example.com.
This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information
distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the
latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at
* Feedback and questions to ARS News Service via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville MD
20705-5128, (301) 504-1617, fax 504-1648.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: