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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Menu Logo Principal AgroParisTech Université Paris-Saclay


GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

A Systems Biology Approach to identify the genes responsible for beef tenderness

Beef tenderness
A Systems Biology Approach allowed to explore the relations between traits associated with meat quality and to identify the gene network implicated. Using this approach, which was applied to three bovine populations (Charolais, Limousine and Blonde d’Aquitaine), 206 genes, whose variants explain 30% of tenderness variance, were identified.

Context and Stakes

Considering the difficult economic context where beef production is confronted with many challenges, the discovery of molecular markers that may be used to select animals with higher meat quality would provide the industry with the means to satisfy consumers and ensure meat of high quality with a guarantee of tenderness. Research carried forth up until now in France and elsewhere in the world have identified different regions of the genome and/or DNA polymorphisms associated with the differences of quality but without finding a coherency among the results.
By using a « Systems Biology » approach, we explored the relations between the traits associated with meat quality, we sought to identify the pleiotropic effects and deduce the gene networks associated with tenderness and other qualities of meat. We applied this approach to three bovine populations including Charolais, Limousine and Blonde d’Aquitaine to identify a group of genes that may potentially be used whatever the breed.


Our results showed a group of 206 genes found in the three breeds. The variations (SNP) present in these genes explain between 28 and 30% of the phenotypic variation of the “shearing force” tenderness trait, however, these variations are rarely present in more than one breed. This result suggests that different mutations affect the same genes but in a different manner between the three breeds.
During this study, the genes known to be implicated in tenderness were identified and a group of 206 shared genes are located in QTL regions associated with tenderness that have already been described in other studies on other populations. The multiple-trait and multiple-breed analysis have also permitted the identification of new candidate genes.
This study shows that a systems biology approach allows the identification of candidate genes that, by a “classical” mono-trait analysis approach, would not have been found.   


This study provides a list of genes that are potentially implicated in tenderness. Through future studies, they should lead to the discovery of causal mutations.


Ramayo-Caldas Y., Renand G., Ballester M., Saintilan R., Rocha D. (2016). Multi-breed and multi-trait co-association analysis of meat tenderness and other meat quality traits in three French beef cattle breeds. Genet. Sel. Evol. 48: 37.