The meat quality use case aims at studying and analysing the relationship between relevant phenotypes for the beef industry to improve the understanding of the meat production biological system.
Most phenotypes are complex and quantitative in nature (e.g. livestock performance) and a major goal of biological research is to predict them. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) aim to identify the molecular basis of characters of interest by systematically comparing genetic profiles between cohorts of samples with and without a given trait. However, the general outcomes from GWAS are mostly unsatisfactory, identifying an enormous collection of trait-associated genetic variants difficult to interpret, of which the majority lie in non-coding genomic sequences.
Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), defined as genomic regions harbouring one or more nucleotide variants that correlate with differences in gene expression, are used to identify downstream targets likely affected by GWAS associations and share the same problems.
The next challenge of biology lays on understanding how the ever-expanding collection of trait-associated variants affects gene expression and translates into different phenotypes. Disentangling this intricate regulatory landscape is pivotal to translate results from genetic association studies to stakeholders.
The GLOMICAVE meat quality use case is being developed on the Asturiana de los Valles beef breed and has the objective to establish the relationship between relevant phenotypes for the beef industry, including traits at different levels, and integrated structured data from omics datasets provided by ASEAVA and ASINCAR.
The data obtained are feeding the cloud-based genotype to phenotype platform developed in the GLOMICAVE project and will allow to improve the understanding of the meat production biological system.
For this purpose, two-fold strategy are being followed to validate the robustness and applicability of the platform:
- Strategy A: classification of carcasses according to tenderness at longissimus dorsi muscle (300 males steers. The results obtained from the tenderness characterization allowed to select the 20 most extremes phenotypes (10 tender and 10 tough) for omic analysis.
- Strategy B: a total of 80 six-month-old weaned calves (males) randomly assign them to two treatment groups: 40 for grass feeding and 40 for grain feeding during 4-6 months. Meat sampling for phenotype measurements (meat quality parameters), as well as omics analysis, are being carried out.
- Promoting a better production efficiency in the beef industry
- Facilitating a better response to consumers and farmers demands
- Developing ethical implications for animal welfare