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Using genetics to improve the quality and safety of sheep products

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Improved quality for sheep products

Biotechnology and modern-day genetics are providing scientists with new and improved tools to improve overall food chain safety and quality.

Health

The EC-funded GENESHEEPSAFETY project focused on using genetics to improve the overall food quality and safety of the sheep production chain. Genetic analysis was carried out to identify the genetic traits that are linked to specific phenotypes with an overall aim to reproduce these in future sheep progeny. Project partner INRA studied milk production in the Lacaune and Manech sheep populations. Researchers sought quantitative trait loci (QTL) in DNA linked to specific traits and thus passed on to progeny. A total of nine traits were examined including milk yield (MY), fat yield (FY), protein yield (PY), fat content (FC) and protein content (PC). The study yielded a total of 11 QTL, for a number of different traits under observation. This opens up a whole new avenue for investigation for animal breeding experts. The overall aim is to "enrich" progeny lines with those specific QTLs responsible for desirable phenotypes each time, therefore breeding sheep families that can yield high quality food products.

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