Genetic parameters for sensory traits in longissimus muscle and their associations with tenderness, marbling score, and intramuscular fat in Angus cattle

R. G. Mateescu, D. J. Garrick, A. J. Garmyn, D. L. Vanoverbeke, G. G. Mafi, J. M. Reecy

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The objective of this study was to estimate heritabilities for sensory traits and genetic correlations among sensory traits and with marbling score (MS), Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF), and intramuscular fat content (IMFC). Samples of LM from 2,285 Angus cattle were obtained and fabricated into steaks for laboratory analysis and 1,720 steaks were analyzed by a trained sensory panel. Restricted maximum likelihood procedures were used to obtain estimates of variance and covariance components under a multitrait animal model. Estimates of heritability for MS, IMFC, WBSF, tenderness, juiciness, and connective tissue traits were 0.67, 0.38, 0.19, 0.18, 0.06, and 0.25, respectively. The genetic correlations of MS with tenderness, juiciness, and connective tissue were estimated to be 0.57 ± 0.14, 1.00 ± 0.17, and 0.49 ± 0.13, all positive and strong. Estimated genetic correlations of IMFC with tenderness, juiciness, and connective tissue were 0.56 ± 0.16, 1.00 ± 0.21, and 0.50 ± 0.15, respectively. The genetic correlations of WBSF with tenderness, juiciness, and connective tissue were all favorable and estimated to be –0.99 ± 0.08, –0.33 ± 0.30 and –0.99 ± 0.07, respectively. Strong and positive genetic correlations were estimated between tenderness and juiciness (0.54 ± 0.28) and between connective tissue and juiciness (0.58 ± 0.26). In general, genetic correlations were large and favorable, which indicated that strong relationships exist and similar gene and gene networks may control MS, IMFC, and juiciness or WBSF, panel tenderness, and connective tissue. The results from this study confirm that MS currently used in selection breeding programs has positive genetic correlations with tenderness and juiciness and, therefore, is an effective indicator trait for the improvement of tenderness and juiciness in beef. This study also indicated that a more objective measure, particularly WBSF, a trait not easy to improve through phenotypic selection, is an excellent candidate trait for genomic selection aimed at improving eating satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Beef
  • Genetic parameters
  • Marbling score
  • Sensory traits
  • Tenderness

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