Genome-wide association studies of meat quality traits in chickens: a review

Jean Pierre  Munyaneza1   Thisarani Kalhari  Ediriweera2   Minjun  Kim1   Eunjin  Cho2   Aera  Jang3   Hyo Jun  Choo4   Jun Heon Lee1,2,5,*   

1Division of Animal and Dairy Science, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea
2Department of Bio-AI Convergence, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea
3Department of Animal Products and Food Science, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 24341, Korea
4Poultry Research Institute, National Institute of Animal Science, Pyeongchang 25342, Korea
5Department of Bio-big data, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea


Chicken dominates meat consumption because it is low in fat and high in protein and has less or no religious and cultural barriers. Recently, meat quality traits have become the focus of the poultry industry more than ever. Currently, poultry farming is focusing on meat quality to satisfy meat consumer preferences, which are mostly based on high-quality proteins and a low proportion of saturated fatty acids. Meat quality traits are polygenic traits controlled by many genes. Thus, it is difficult to improve these traits using the conventional selection method because of their low to moderate heritability. These traits include pH, colour, drop loss, tenderness, intramuscular fat (IMF), water-holding capacity, flavour, and many others. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are an efficient genomic tool that identifies the genomic regions and potential candidate genes related to meat quality traits. Due to their impact on the economy, meat quality traits are used as selection criteria in breeding programs. Various genes and markers related to meat quality traits in chickens have been identified. In chickens, GWAS have been successfully done for intramuscular fat (IMF) content, ultimate pH (pHu) and meat and skin colour. Moreover, GWAS have identified 7, 4, 4 and 6 potential candidate genes for IMF, pHu, meat colour and skin colour, respectively. Therefore, the current review summarizes the significant genes identified by genome-wide association studies for meat quality traits in chickens.

Figures & Tables

Fig. 1. Locations of the potential candidate genes related to meat quality traits in chicken. Intramuscular fat (IMF), linoleic acid (C18:2), inosine 5’-monophosphate (IMP), ultimate pH (pHu), meat lightness (Meat L*), skin lightness (Skin L*), palmitic acid (C16:0), eicosenoic acid (C20:1), linolenic acid (C18:3), skin yellowness (Skin b*), stearic acid (C18:0), oleic acid (C18:1), palmitoleic acid(C16:1), arachidonic acid (C20:4), skin redness (skin a*), meat yellowness value (meat b*).