Researchers from Lleida University (UdL) obtained pork meat with a lower proportion of saturated fat and a higher content in monounsaturated fatty acids. This meat is healthier, but it has also better organoleptic properties. Researchers from the School of Agrifood and Forestry Science and Engineering (ETSEA) identified a genetic variant in the promoter of the stearoyl-CoA desaturase gene, responsible for the conversion of stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid, into oleic acid, a monounsaturated one. The presence of this variant in the promoter enhances the fat desaturation activity of the enzyme. This also increases the levels of palmitoleic acid in intramuscular fat.
The use of this genetic variant in commercial genetic improvement programmes is under a protection process. At present, these results have been published in the open access journal Plos One.
The Unit of Pig Genetic Improvement of ETSEA has been working for 12 years in the improvement of Duroc pork meat, which is characterized by a high degree of fat infiltration. For this reason, Duroc pork meat is very appreciated to elaborate high quality cured products. The effect of the reported genetic variant has been observed in pigs from all controlled generations since 2001, even when they were bred in different farms or fed different diets.