International Journal of Current Research and Review
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IJCRR - Vol 09 issue 10 current issue , May, 2017

Pages: 11-18

Date of Publication: 27-May-2017

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Possibility for Improving Carcass Composition and Meat Quality Traits by Selective Breeding

Author: Trygve Gjedrem

Category: General Sciences

Abstract:An advantage of aquaculture farming compared with fisheries is that it is possible to genetically improve economically important traits through selective breeding. This is possible because many traits have underlying heritable genetic components and individuals carrying those desirable traits can be selected as the parents of the next generation. A difficulty however, is how to measure the quality traits on the potential breeders. Traditionally, measuring the traits on relatives like full- and half-sibs have been applied. However, with new technologies such as near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy, X-ray tomography (CT) and Fotofish, it is now possible to measure fat% and filet color with high precision. Furthermore, new technological advances have opened new doors to potentially estimate fat% and filet color on live animals. Improving fat% by selective breeding is possible, as the heritability of the trait is relatively high (h2 = 0.25) and a genetic gain of 4 % per generation has been reported for rainbow trout. On the other hand, the heritability for flesh color shows high variation, but it is particularly high when measured using CT (h2 = 0.47). Finally, fillet yield has a rather low heritability (h2 = 0.16) and reported genetic gain per generation is close to zero.

Keywords: Aquaculture, Genetic gain, Heritability, Meat quality, Selective breeding

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Quality traits and carcass composition in fish and shellfish are important characters for both consumers and farmers. In general, from marketing perspective there product can be a complicated process, as different markets may have different quality preferences. For farmers, the size and variation as well as dressing%, fillet yield, shape and color decide the price. Important factors in the market are processors and for salmon smoking operations to improve the product quality. For consumers, the size of the fillet, fat%, texture and color are important quality traits. For Furthermore, in some fish species such as carp and silver barbnumber of intramuscular bones usually have a better market acceptance. This trait seems to be highly variable within species. For instance, it has been reported that the number of intramuscular bones in different ploidies of crucian carp (Carussiusauratus) can vary from 77 to 86[1]. In Blunt snote bream (Megalobramaamblycephala) the number of intermuscular bones is estimated to vary from 108 to 129 [2]For consumers these small bones can be a concern, as they are usually difficult to remove, making them unpopular.

However, one of the main problems of including quality traits in breeding goals is that these traits can not only vary extensively between species, but their preferences can also greatly differ across markets. From a breeding point of view, it is therefore often difficult to decide which traits should be included in the breeding goal and how to rank those traits according to their economic values. With this in mind, the purpose of this short review paper is to discuss possibilities on how to improve quality traits in fish and shellfish through selective breeding. One of the main difficulties of improving carcass and quality traits is how to record the traits on the live animal with high repeatability. However, there are some new promising technologies on the horizon, considering that currently we are mainly relying on recording the traits on the relatives (full- and half-sibs) of potential breeders. Subject scoring has been widely used, which in general has low repeatability and chemical analysis are laborious and expensive. For the purpose of this review, I will not discuss hybridization and monosex culture.

Methods to measure quality traits

In recent years, much work has taken place to investigate different technologies to measure quality traits both on live animals as well as on carcasses. For instance, using ultrasound imaging, Bosworth et al.[3] explained 48-56% and 31-38% of the variation in meat yield traits in female and male catfish, respectively. Sang et al. [4] studied methods to measure quality traits of river catfish by taking measurement of the live fish. The correlation between the predicted and the observed values for fillet weight, fillet yield and fillet fat were 0.93 (5 measurements), 0.86 (4 measurements) and 0.85 (4 measurements). Texture is another example of important quality trait in fresh as well as in processed products. Mørkøre[5] used mechanical pressure to measure texture. It was found that sensory hardness is correlated with a Warner-Blatzler blade of 12.5 mm in diameter in raw salmon (r = 0.70). Gjerde and Martens [7] studied near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIR) to measure water, fat % and protein % in the fillet of rainbow trout. They found very high correlations between chemical analysis and NIR measurements for water, fat % and protein %, ranging from r = 0.97-0.99. Folkestad et al. [6] applied near infrared (VIS/NIR) spectroscopy to estimate fat % in live Atlantic salmon and reported a correlation of 0.94 with chemical estimates. NIR is also an efficient tool for estimating fat % in the gutted and fillet weight. Further, VIS showed to be efficient in estimation of pigments in the fillet. Wold et al. [8] showed that Raman spectroscopy was a suitable method for none destructive estimation of pigments (r = 0.95) and fat % (r = 0.97) in the ground salmon meat.

Computer assisted X-ray tomography (CT) was first used to measure body and carcass composition in live pigs [9]. In rainbow trout, Gjerde [10] estimated correlation between the observed and predicted CT values of 0.88 for water %, 0.89 for fat % and 0.68 for protein %. In a dataset of 174 Atlantic salmon, Rye [11] obtained a correlation of 0.92 between the observed and predicted values for fat and water content. For protein, no significant prediction was recorded. Quillet et al. [12] used Distell Fish Fatmeter in selection for muscle lipid content in rainbow trout. Fillet color is another example of important quality trait particularly in salmonid species. In 2003, researchers (Erland Austreng and Kjell Arne Rørvik) at AKVAFORSK (now Nofima) took the initiative to develop an instrument named Fotofish, which was revised later. In addition to color, Fotofish can also be used to measure the % pigment in the fat. Rørvik et al. [13] report correlations between Fotofish predictions and the following quality traits: pigment (mg/kg), r = 0.94 for salmon and r = 0.97 for rainbow trout, fat %, r = 0.95 for salmon and 0.85 for trout, and color score r = 0.95 for both species. At present, there are several efficient methods for obtaining estimations of the most important quality traits with high precision on both live fish as well as on the carcasses. These are potentially important tools and approaches for further improvements of economically important traits in aquatic species.

Heritability and genetic variation in quality traits

A literature survey for heritability estimates of quality traits and their averages have been presented in Tables 1 and 2, respectively. For most traits, the heritability estimates seem to vary considerably. Such variations might be due to low repeatability of measurements, variations among populations, species and differences in environmental conditions that the animals were exposed to. On average, the reported heritability estimates for protein % is close to zero (h2 = 0.03), the heritability for carcass and quality score are rather low (h2 = 0.10 - 0.15) and this is further followed by h2 = 0.16 for dressing % and fillet texture. For fillet yield there are at least 10 different h2 estimates, with the average across all estimates to be approximately 0.16. The fat % and carotenoids both seem to have a moderate heritability (h2 = 0.25). On the other hand, the heritability for flesh color, measured by tomography, is very high (h2 = 0.47). In general, we can see that most economic traits of interest show genetic variation [14, 15]. For many of these traits extensive work is now underway to better understand their underlying molecular architecture. For example Wan et al. [16] showed that abundant microRNA were functionally involved in regulating the development and differentiation of intermuscular bones and connective tissues in the blunt snout bream. Bai et al. [17]investigated quality traits in triangle pearl mussel. The authors found four QTL explaining 26%-28% of the trait variation, which will provide valuable information for marker-assisted selection of the freshwater pearl mussel. Kuang et al. [18] investigated the genetic variation in fat % in common carp. A genome-wide significant QTL was detected, explaining 36.2% of the phenotypic variance. Further, they identified three QTL with significant effects explaining 14.3%-19.5% of fat content in the common carp. These findings suggest that the observed phenotypic variations of  many quality traits might mainly be explained by a few major genes and QTL.

Phenotypic and genetic correlations between quality traits

While the phenotypic correlations (rP) between body weight and fat % are positive, varying from 0.05%-0.72%, the genetic correlations (rG) have been reported to range from -0.21 to 0.80 (Table 3). On the other hand, both phenotypic and estimated genetic correlations between body weight and flesh color are low with one exception (rG = -0.21). The genetic correlations between fat % and flesh color are also all low and negative while the phenotypic correlations vary from low negative to high positive. Both phenotypic and genetic correlations between dressing % and quality traits are low with a couple of exceptions (rG = -0.03 with body weight and rP= -0.22 with flesh color). Quality traits are in general measured on carcasses of animals, all with the same age but usually of varying sizes. Using a different approach, Kristiansson [24] estimated correlations between quality traits and body weight on animals of the same age (sa) and similar weights (sw). Both phenotypic and genetic correlations between body weight (sa) and fat % were high and significant. On the other hand, the genetic and phenotypic correlations between weight (sw) and fat % was low. Haffray et al. [33] estimated high negative genetic correlations between body weight and body tissue development as head yield or the head and vertebral column yield (-0.48 to -0.57).

Genetic gain

Table 3 shows estimates of genetic gain for some important traits. For fat % in rainbow trout a genetic gain of 4% per generation has been reported [12] . This means that it is possible to improve this important quality trait in farmed fish only over a few generations. For filet yield, the pattern is different. For Nile tilapia, the genetic gain is close to zero as it was estimated for the meat yield in mussel.


Fish and shellfish both from fisheries and aquaculture are healthy food for people, considering their protein and fat contents and important micronutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. In aquaculture, it is possible to change feed composition and in addition, it is possible to change and improve product quality and carcass composition through selective breeding. For some traits, at least, the possibilities for genetic improvement is highly promising, with perhaps one of the best examples being the fillet fat % which shows moderate heritability (h2 = 0.25) and a genetic gain of 4 % per generation in rainbow trout. Of course, while in some species it might be of interest to increase fat %, in some other species it might be more desirable to reduce it. By using new technological, it is possible to measure various traits like flesh color and carotenoids on the live animal opens numerous possibilities and opportunities for genetic improvements of these economically important traits, particularly in salmonids. For protein % the heritability is close to zero (h2 = 0.03) indicating low genetic variation and no response to selection. For fillet yield the heritability is rather low (h2 = 0.16) and the two estimates of genetic gain in tilapia and one in mussel are close to zero. Gjerde et al. [42] discussed the low genetic gain in tilapia, and concluded: “The close to unity genetic correlation between round body weight and fillet weight indicates that genetic improvement of one of the traits without achieving a proportional genetic change in other is difficult or even impossible. This implies that improvement of fillet yield through direct selection is difficult to achieve”.


Author acknowledge the immense help received from the scholars whose articles are cited and included in references of this manuscript.. Are cited and included in references of this manuscript. The author are also grateful to authors/ editors/ publishers of all those articles, journals and books from where the literature for this revive has been reviewed and discussed. I am grateful to Nofima who funded this work. I would also like to thank Dr. Hooman Moghadam for his review and comments on the manuscript,


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A Study by Maryam MJ et al. entitled "Evaluation Serum Chemerin and Visfatin Levels with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Possible Diagnostic Biomarkers" is awarded Best Article for Vol 14 issue 02
A Study by Shanthan KR et al. entitled "Comparison of Ultrasound Guided Versus Nerve Stimulator Guided Technique of Supraclavicular Brachial Plexus Block in Patients Undergoing Upper Limb Surgeries" is awarded Best Article for Vol 14 issue 01
A Study by Amol Sanap et al. entitled "The Outcome of Coxofemoral Bypass Using Cemented Bipolar Hemiarthroplasty in the Treatment of Unstable Intertrochanteric Fracture of Femur in a Rural Setup" is awarded Best Article Award of Vol 13 issue 24
A Study by Manoj KP et al. entitled "A Randomized Comparative Clinical Trial to Know the Efficacy of Ultrasound-Guided Transversus Abdominis Plane Block Against Multimodal Analgesia for Postoperative Analgesia Following Caesarean Section" is awarded Best Article Award of Vol 13 issue 23
A Study by Karimova II et al. entitled "Changes in the Activity of Intestinal Carbohydrases in Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats and Their Correction with Prenalon" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 22
A Study by Ashish B Roge et al. entitled "Development, Validation of RP-HPLC Method and GC MS Analysis of Desloratadine HCL and It’s Degradation Products" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 21
A Study by Isha Gaurav et al. entitled "Association of ABO Blood Group with Oral Cancer and Precancer – A Case-control Study" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 20
A Study by Amr Y. Zakaria et al. entitled "Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms of ATP-Binding Cassette Gene(ABCC3 rs4793665) affect High Dose Methotrexate-Induced Nephrotoxicity in Children with Osteosarcoma" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 19
A Study by Kholis Ernawati et al. entitled "The Utilization of Mobile-Based Information Technology in the Management of Dengue Fever in the Community Year 2019-2020: Systematic Review" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 18
A Study by Bhat Asifa et al. entitled "Efficacy of Modified Carbapenem Inactivation Method for Carbapenemase Detection and Comparative Evaluation with Polymerase Chain Reaction for the Identification of Carbapenemase Producing Klebsiella pneumonia Isolates" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 17
A Study by Gupta R. et al. entitled "A Clinical Study of Paediatric Tracheostomy: Our Experience in a Tertiary Care Hospital in North India" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 16
A Study by Chandran Anand et al. entitled "A Prospective Study on Assessment of Quality of Life of Patients Receiving Sorafenib for Hepatocellular Carcinoma" is awarded Best article for Vol 13 issue 15
A Study by Rosa PS et al. entitled "Emotional State Due to the Covid – 19 Pandemic in People Residing in a Vulnerable Area in North Lima" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 14
A Study by Suvarna Sunder J et al. entitled "Endodontic Revascularization of Necrotic Permanent Anterior Tooth with Platelet Rich Fibrin, Platelet Rich Plasma, and Blood Clot - A Comparative Study" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 13
A Study by Mona Isam Eldin Osman et al. entitled "Psychological Impact and Risk Factors of Sexual Abuse on Sudanese Children in Khartoum State" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 12
A Study by Khaw Ming Sheng & Sathiapriya Ramiah entitled "Web Based Suicide Prevention Application for Patients Suffering from Depression" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 11
A Study by Purushottam S. G. et al. entitled "Development of Fenofibrate Solid Dispersions for the Plausible Aqueous Solubility Augmentation of this BCS Class-II Drug" is awarded Best article for Vol 13 issue 10
A Study by Kumar S. et al. entitled "A Study on Clinical Spectrum, Laboratory Profile, Complications and Outcome of Pediatric Scrub Typhus Patients Admitted to an Intensive Care Unit from a Tertiary Care Hospital from Eastern India" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 09
A Study by Mardhiah Kamaruddin et al. entitled "The Pattern of Creatinine Clearance in Gestational and Chronic Hypertension Women from the Third Trimester to 12 Weeks Postpartum" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 08
A Study by Sarmila G. B. et al. entitled "Study to Compare the Efficacy of Orally Administered Melatonin and Clonidine for Attenuation of Hemodynamic Response During Laryngoscopy and Endotracheal Intubation in Gastrointestinal Surgeries" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 07
A Study by M. Muthu Uma Maheswari et al. entitled "A Study on C-reactive Protein and Liver Function Tests in Laboratory RT-PCR Positive Covid-19 Patients in a Tertiary Care Centre – A Retrospective Study" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 06 Special issue Modern approaches for diagnosis of COVID-19 and current status of awareness
A Study by Gainneos PD et al. entitled "A Comparative Evaluation of the Levels of Salivary IgA in HIV Affected Children and the Children of the General Population within the Age Group of 9 – 12 Years – A Cross-Sectional Study" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 05 Special issue on Recent Advances in Dentistry for better Oral Health
A Study by Alkhansa Mahmoud et al. entitled "mRNA Expression of Somatostatin Receptors (1-5) in MCF7 and MDA-MB231 Breast Cancer Cells" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 06
A Study by Chen YY and Ghazali SRB entitled "Lifetime Trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder Symptoms and Early Adolescence Risk Factors for Poor Physical Health Outcome Among Malaysian Adolescents" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 04 Special issue on Current Updates in Plant Biology to Medicine to Healthcare Awareness in Malaysia
A Study by Kumari PM et al. entitled "Study to Evaluate the Adverse Drug Reactions in a Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital in Tamilnadu - A Cross-Sectional Study" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 05
A Study by Anu et al. entitled "Effectiveness of Cytological Scoring Systems for Evaluation of Breast Lesion Cytology with its Histopathological Correlation" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 04
A Study by Sharipov R. Kh. et al. entitled "Interaction of Correction of Lipid Peroxidation Disorders with Oxibral" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 03
A Study by Tarek Elwakil et al. entitled "Led Light Photobiomodulation Effect on Wound Healing Combined with Phenytoin in Mice Model" is awarded Best Article of Vol 13 issue 02
A Study by Mohita Ray et al. entitled "Accuracy of Intra-Operative Frozen Section Consultation of Gastrointestinal Biopsy Samples in Correlation with the Final Histopathological Diagnosis" is awarded Best Article for Vol 13 issue 01
A Study by Badritdinova MN et al. entitled "Peculiarities of a Pain in Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease in the Presence of Individual Combines of the Metabolic Syndrome" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 24
A Study by Sindhu Priya E S et al. entitled "Neuroprotective activity of Pyrazolone Derivatives Against Paraquat-induced Oxidative Stress and Locomotor Impairment in Drosophila melanogaster" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 23
A Study by Habiba Suhail et al. entitled "Effect of Majoon Murmakki in Dysmenorrhoea (Usre Tams): A Standard Controlled Clinical Study" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 22
A Study by Ghaffar UB et al. entitled "Correlation between Height and Foot Length in Saudi Population in Majmaah, Saudi Arabia" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 21
A Study by Siti Sarah Binti Maidin entitled "Sleep Well: Mobile Application to Address Sleeping Problems" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 20
A Study by Avijit Singh"Comparison of Post Operative Clinical Outcomes Between “Made in India” TTK Chitra Mechanical Heart Valve Versus St Jude Mechanical Heart Valve in Valve Replacement Surgery" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 19
A Study by Sonali Banerjee and Mary Mathews N. entitled "Exploring Quality of Life and Perceived Experiences Among Couples Undergoing Fertility Treatment in Western India: A Mixed Methodology" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 18
A Study by Jabbar Desai et al. entitled "Prevalence of Obstructive Airway Disease in Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease and Hypertension" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 17
A Study by Juna Byun et al. entitled "Study on Difference in Coronavirus-19 Related Anxiety between Face-to-face and Non-face-to-face Classes among University Students in South Korea" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 16
A Study by Sudha Ramachandra & Vinay Chavan entitled "Enhanced-Hybrid-Age Layered Population Structure (E-Hybrid-ALPS): A Genetic Algorithm with Adaptive Crossover for Molecular Docking Studies of Drug Discovery Process" is awarded Best article for Vol 12 issue 15
A Study by Varsha M. Shindhe et al. entitled "A Study on Effect of Smokeless Tobacco on Pulmonary Function Tests in Class IV Workers of USM-KLE (Universiti Sains Malaysia-Karnataka Lingayat Education Society) International Medical Programme, Belagavi" is awarded Best article of Vol 12 issue 14, July 2020
A study by Amruta Choudhary et al. entitled "Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Among Women of Reproductive Age from Rural Area of Central India" is awarded Best Article for special issue "Modern Therapeutics Applications"
A study by Raunak Das entitled "Study of Cardiovascular Dysfunctions in Interstitial Lung Diseas epatients by Correlating the Levels of Serum NT PRO BNP and Microalbuminuria (Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Dysfunction) with Echocardiographic, Bronchoscopic and HighResolution Computed Tomography Findings of These ILD Patients" is awarded Best Article of Vol 12 issue 13 
A Study by Kannamani Ramasamy et al. entitled "COVID-19 Situation at Chennai City – Forecasting for the Better Pandemic Management" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 12
A Study by Muhammet Lutfi SELCUK and Fatma entitled "Distinction of Gray and White Matter for Some Histological Staining Methods in New Zealand Rabbit's Brain" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 11
A Study by Anamul Haq et al. entitled "Etiology of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding in Adolescents – Emphasis Upon Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 10
A Study by entitled "Estimation of Reference Interval of Serum Progesterone During Three Trimesters of Normal Pregnancy in a Tertiary Care Hospital of Kolkata" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 09
A Study by Ilona Gracie De Souza & Pavan Kumar G. entitled "Effect of Releasing Myofascial Chain in Patients with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome - A Randomized Clinical Trial" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 08
A Study by Virendra Atam et. al. entitled "Clinical Profile and Short - Term Mortality Predictors in Acute Stroke with Emphasis on Stress Hyperglycemia and THRIVE Score : An Observational Study" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 07
A Study by K. Krupashree et. al. entitled "Protective Effects of Picrorhizakurroa Against Fumonisin B1 Induced Hepatotoxicity in Mice" is awarded best article for issue Vol 10 issue 20
A study by Mithun K.P. et al "Larvicidal Activity of Crude Solanum Nigrum Leaf and Berries Extract Against Dengue Vector-Aedesaegypti" is awarded Best Article for Vol 10 issue 14 of IJCRR
A study by Asha Menon "Women in Child Care and Early Education: Truly Nontraditional Work" is awarded Best Article for Vol 10 issue 13
A study by Deep J. M. "Prevalence of Molar-Incisor Hypomineralization in 7-13 Years Old Children of Biratnagar, Nepal: A Cross Sectional Study" is awarded Best Article for Vol 10 issue 11 of IJCRR
A review by Chitra et al to analyse relation between Obesity and Type 2 diabetes is awarded 'Best Article' for Vol 10 issue 10 by IJCRR. 
A study by Karanpreet et al "Pregnancy Induced Hypertension: A Study on Its Multisystem Involvement" is given Best Paper Award for Vol 10 issue 09

List of Awardees

A Study by Ese Anibor et al. "Evaluation of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Among Delta State University Students in Abraka, Nigeria" from Vol 13 issue 16 received Emerging Researcher Award

A Study by Alkhansa Mahmoud et al. entitled "mRNA Expression of Somatostatin Receptors (1-5) in MCF7 and MDA-MB231 Breast Cancer Cells" from Vol 13 issue 06 received Emerging Researcher Award

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Disclaimer: International Journal of Current Research and Review (IJCRR) provides platform for researchers to publish and discuss their original research and review work. IJCRR can not be held responsible for views, opinions and written statements of researchers published in this journal.


International Journal of Current Research and Review (IJCRR) provides platform for researchers to publish and discuss their original research and review work. IJCRR can not be held responsible for views, opinions and written statements of researchers published in this journal


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