A general approach combining QTL research and gene expression profiling to identify genes controlling chicken meat quality
Besides productivity gains brought by a better knowledge of the dietary needs, a progress of the veterinary treatments or a rationalization of the rearing conditions, genetics widely contributed to the development of the poultry production (BEAUMONT et al., 2004). It allowed considerable progress in growth performances and body composition of meat-type poultry. After decades of development, economic data are less favourable with a decline of 17% between 1998 and 2005 of the French poultry production (MAGDELAINE, 2006). Nevertheless, the national market widely diversified and perspectives of development still remain, mainly for elaborated products. In the case of chicken, their market share should grow of more than 5% between 2005 and 2010, increasing from 23% to 28% (MAGDELAINE, 2006). The improvement of technological quality of the meat has become a major stake for the poultry industry, in order to propose products well adapted to processing and responding to the consumer demand of quality. As in the pig, the post-mortem pH fall in muscle is determining for the processing and storage ability of poultry meat, even if it does not exclude the impact of other factors. So, meats with low ultimate pH or with a high rate of pH fall are characterized by a low water holding capacity associated to a tough and dry texture after cooking (BARBUT 1996, 1997). They are often qualified as PSE (for Pale, Soft, Exudative) meats. Meats with high ultimate pH are poorly adapted to storage because of a risk of accelerated microbial development (ALLEN et al., 1997, 1998). Recent studies carried out in French slaughter plants showed that the final pH of chicken breast meat (the most valuable part of the carcass) is extremely variable, even within the same slaughter batch (BRUNEL et al., 2006; figure 1). Technical advances, such as sorting meat on its colour (POPOT et al., 2006), are thus envisaged to better control the processing yields and to improve the quality of the elaborated products. In addition, substantial gains could be obtained by an improvement of the quality of the raw meat.
E. Le BIHAN-DUVAL, C. BERRI, F. PITEL, J. NADAF, V. SIBUT, C. JENKINS, M.-J. DUCLOS