Ground-breaking developments made in beef tenderness research

In recent times there has been increasing research invested into studies on beef tenderness and eating quality.

Following an integromics analysis coordinated by Teagasc, it has reportedly published the world’s first set of beef tenderness biomarkers and major molecular signatures.

According to Teagasc, the study aimed to identify molecular signatures of beef meat tenderness, which in turn would lead to optimisation of management systems for guaranteed quality.

The study

As part of the research, a systemic computerised literature search was performed which was then followed by an integromics and meta-analysis in order to determine the current status of protein biomarker discovery targeting beef tenderness.

The data was gathered from 28 independent proteomics-based experiments, which consisted of 888 animals including bulls, cows, heifers and steers.

These experiments had already identified 124 proteins that formed the first worldwide repertoire of beef tenderness biomarkers.

Following a protein network analysis of the 124 proteins from striploin, key insights were discovered into the interconnectedness among various pathways and processes in the muscle that are pivotal in producing high-quality beef.

The interconnected pathways discovered included:

  • Muscle contraction and structure development;
  • Energy metabolism;
  • Cellular responses to stress;
  • Response to oxidative stress;
  • Proteolysis;
  • The regulation of cellular processes, binding, apoptosis and transport.

The study reportedly revealed the importance of the changing integrity of muscle contractile and structure proteins, energy metabolism enzymes, heat stress proteins and oxidative stress proteins in the determination of beef tenderness – in that order of importance.

Benefits to the beef industry

According to Teagasc, the data gathered demonstrated how the protein dynamics across the different metabolic pathways are associated with the development of tenderness early post-mortem and during the aging process.

The shortlisted protein biomarkers will aid carcass management systems in delivering consistency in beef tenderness while also leading to the development of prediction equations enabling rapid evaluation of beef tenderness potential.