Expected genetic response for oleic acid content in pork

R. Ros-Freixedes, J. Reixach, M. Tor, J. Estany*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intramuscular fat (IMF) and oleic acid (C18:1) content in pork are important issues for the pig industry and consumers. Data from a purebred Duroc line were used to i) estimate the genetic parameters of IMF and C18:1 and their genetic correlations with lean growth components, and ii) evaluate the opportunities for genetically improving C18:1 in IMF. The data set used for estimating genetic parameters consisted of 93,920 pigs, from which 85,194 had at least 1 record for BW or backfat thickness (BT) at 180 d and 943 for IMF and C18:1 at 205 d. Intramuscular fat content and C18:1, expressed as percentage of total fatty acids, were determined in the gluteus medius muscle by gas chromatography. Genetic parameters for C18:1 were estimated under a Bayesian 4-trait multivariate animal mixed model. Heritability of C18:1 was 0.50, with a probability of 95% of being greater than 0.37. Genetic correlations of C18:1 with BW, BT, and IMF were 0.11, 0.22, and 0.47, respectively (with a probability of 95% of being greater than -0.07, 0.04, and 0.27, respectively). Genetic responses were evaluated by deterministic simulation using a half-sib recording scheme for C18:1 and the previously estimated parameters. The C18:1 content is expected to exhibit only minor changes in selection programs directed at growth rate but to decrease in those focusing on lean content. Maximum expected response in C18:1 at no lean growth loss (i.e., at no change in BW and BT) was 0.44%, with a resulting correlated response in IMF of 0.15%. However, because lean growth is emphasized in the breeding goal, the resulting response scenarios are more constrained. We concluded that there is evidence to support the idea that C18:1 in IMF is genetically determined and defi ned selection strategies can lead to response scenarios in which C18:1, IMF, BT, and BW can be simultaneously improved. However, if adopted, the potential for lean growth would be reduced. The extent to which it is affordable relies on how much consumers are prepared to pay for high-C18:1 pork products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4230-4238
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Genetic parameters
  • Intramuscular fat
  • Meat quality
  • Oleic
  • Pigs
  • Selection


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