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Concept: Pork


Domestication of wild boar (Sus scrofa) and subsequent selection have resulted in dramatic phenotypic changes in domestic pigs for a number of traits, including behavior, body composition, reproduction, and coat color. Here we have used whole-genome resequencing to reveal some of the loci that underlie phenotypic evolution in European domestic pigs. Selective sweep analyses revealed strong signatures of selection at three loci harboring quantitative trait loci that explain a considerable part of one of the most characteristic morphological changes in the domestic pig-the elongation of the back and an increased number of vertebrae. The three loci were associated with the NR6A1, PLAG1, and LCORL genes. The latter two have repeatedly been associated with loci controlling stature in other domestic animals and in humans. Most European domestic pigs are homozygous for the same haplotype at these three loci. We found an excess of derived nonsynonymous substitutions in domestic pigs, most likely reflecting both positive selection and relaxed purifying selection after domestication. Our analysis of structural variation revealed four duplications at the KIT locus that were exclusively present in white or white-spotted pigs, carrying the Dominant white, Patch, or Belt alleles. This discovery illustrates how structural changes have contributed to rapid phenotypic evolution in domestic animals and how alleles in domestic animals may evolve by the accumulation of multiple causative mutations as a response to strong directional selection.

Concepts: Genetics, Natural selection, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Selection, Pork


China is one of the most diverse countries, which have developed 88 indigenous pig breeds. Several studies showed that pigs were independently domesticated in multiple regions of the world. The purpose of this study was to investigate the origin and evolution of Chinese pigs using complete mitochondrial genomic sequences (mtDNA) from Asian and European domestic pigs and wild boars. Thirty primer pairs were designed to determine the mtDNA sequences of Xiang pig, Large White, Lantang, Jinhua and Pietrain. The phylogenetic status of Chinese native pigs was investigated by comparing the mtDNA sequences of complete coding regions and D-loop regions respectively amongst Asian breeds, European breeds and wild boars. The analyzed results by two cluster methods contributed to the same conclusion that all pigs were classified into two major groups, European clade and Asian clade. It revealed that Chinese pigs were only recently diverged from each other and distinctly different from European pigs. Berkshire was clustered with Asian pigs and Chinese pigs were involved in the development of Berkshire breeding. The Malaysian wild boar had distant genetic relationship with European and Asian pigs. Jinhua and Lanyu pigs had more nucleotide diversity with Chinese pigs although they all belonged to the Asian major clade. Chinese domestic pigs were clustered with wild boars in Yangtze River region and South China.

Concepts: DNA, China, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork, Razorback


For 10,000 years pigs and humans have shared a close and complex relationship. From domestication to modern breeding practices, humans have shaped the genomes of domestic pigs. Here we present the assembly and analysis of the genome sequence of a female domestic Duroc pig (Sus scrofa) and a comparison with the genomes of wild and domestic pigs from Europe and Asia. Wild pigs emerged in South East Asia and subsequently spread across Eurasia. Our results reveal a deep phylogenetic split between European and Asian wild boars ∼1 million years ago, and a selective sweep analysis indicates selection on genes involved in RNA processing and regulation. Genes associated with immune response and olfaction exhibit fast evolution. Pigs have the largest repertoire of functional olfactory receptor genes, reflecting the importance of smell in this scavenging animal. The pig genome sequence provides an important resource for further improvements of this important livestock species, and our identification of many putative disease-causing variants extends the potential of the pig as a biomedical model.

Concepts: Gene, Organism, RNA, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork


Growing evidence suggests that effects of red meat consumption on coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 2 diabetes could vary depending on processing. We reviewed the evidence for effects of unprocessed (fresh/frozen) red and processed (using sodium/other preservatives) meat consumption on CHD and diabetes. In meta-analyses of prospective cohorts, higher risk of CHD is seen with processed meat consumption (RR per 50 g: 1.42, 95 %CI = 1.07-1.89), but a smaller increase or no risk is seen with unprocessed meat consumption. Differences in sodium content (~400 % higher in processed meat) appear to account for about two-thirds of this risk difference. In similar analyses, both unprocessed red and processed meat consumption are associated with incident diabetes, with higher risk per g of processed (RR per 50 g: 1.51, 95 %CI = 1.25-1.83) versus unprocessed (RR per 100 g: 1.19, 95 % CI = 1.04-1.37) meats. Contents of heme iron and dietary cholesterol may partly account for these associations. The overall findings suggest that neither unprocessed red nor processed meat consumption is beneficial for cardiometabolic health, and that clinical and public health guidance should especially prioritize reducing processed meat consumption.

Concepts: Nutrition, Coronary artery disease, Heart, Meat, Saturated fat, Pork, Red meat, White meat


Climate change is known to affect ecosystems globally, but our knowledge of its impact on large and widespread mammals, and possibly population-specific responses is still sparse. We investigated large-scale and long-term effects of climate change on local population dynamics using the wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) as a model species. Our results show that population increases across Europe are strongly associated with increasingly mild winters, yet with region-specific threshold temperatures for the onset of exponential growth. Additionally, we found that abundant availability of critical food resources, e.g. beech nuts, can outweigh the negative effects of cold winters on population growth of wild boar. Availability of beech nuts is highly variable and highest in years of beech mast which increased in frequency since 1980, according to our data. We conclude that climate change drives population growth of wild boar directly by relaxing the negative effect of cold winters on survival and reproduction, and indirectly by increasing food availability. However, region-specific responses need to be considered in order to fully understand a species' demographic response to climate change.

Concepts: Demography, Great Britain, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Pork, Beech


This paper is based on a workshop held in Oslo, Norway in November 2013, in which experts discussed how to reach consensus on the healthiness of red and processed meat. Recent nutritional recommendations include reducing intake of red and processed meat to reduce cancer risk, in particular colorectal cancer (CRC). Epidemiological and mechanistic data on associations between red and processed meat intake and CRC are inconsistent and underlying mechanisms are unclear. There is a need for further studies on differences between white and red meat, between processed and whole red meat and between different types of processed meats, as potential health risks may not be the same for all products. Better biomarkers of meat intake and of cancer occurrence and updated food composition databases are required for future studies. Modifying meat composition via animal feeding and breeding, improving meat processing by alternative methods such as adding phytochemicals and improving our diets in general are strategies that need to be followed up.

Concepts: Cancer, Nutrition, Meat, Saturated fat, Livestock, Pork, Red meat, White meat


In response to recent claims that synthetic antioxidants have the potential to cause toxicological effects and consumers' increased interest in purchasing natural products, the meat and poultry industry has been seeking sources of natural antioxidants. Due to their high phenolic compound content, fruits and other plant materials provide a good alternative to conventional antioxidants. Plum, grape seed extract, cranberry, pomegranate, bearberry, pine bark extract, rosemary, oregano, and other spices functions as antioxidants in meat and poultry products. Pomegranate, pine bark extract, cinnamon, and cloves have exhibited stronger antioxidant properties than some synthetic options. Plum products, grape seed extract, pine bark extract, rosemary, and some spices all have been shown to affect the color of finished meat or poultry products; however, in some products such as pork sausage or uncured meats, an increase in red color may be desired. When selecting a natural antioxidant, sensory and quality impact on the product should be considered to achieve desired traits.

Concepts: Antioxidant, Meat, Fruit, Cinnamon, Medicinal plants, Pork, Sausage, Spice


Staphylococcus xylosus and Pediococcus pentosaceus isolated from Chinese dried sausage were assessed for their ability to convert metmyoglobin into nitrosylmyoglobin in Mann-Rogosa-Sharp broth model systems and raw pork meat batters without the addition of nitrite. The results showed that samples in model systems with S. xylosus cultures had an absorption spectra that is typical of nitrosylmyoglobin, an obvious pink colour (judged by visual inspection) and a significantly higher a-value than the control samples or samples inoculated with P. pentosaceus. In raw meat batters, the a-values of the S. xylosus samples were almost the same as those for the meat with nitrite added. The complementary analysis of meat batter samples by photochemical information from UV-vis, electron spin resonance and resonance Raman spectroscopy revealed that the existing status of the myoglobin in meat batters inoculated with S. xylosus was mainly pentacoordinate nitrosylmyoglobin. This study provides a potential solution for nitrite substitute in meat products.

Concepts: Electron, Spectroscopy, Staphylococcus, Raman spectroscopy, Raman scattering, Absorption spectroscopy, Pork, Staphylococcus xylosus


An LC-MS/MS method developed for simultaneous analysis of 54 veterinary drug residues of six families in pork meat samples, including sulfanilamide, nitroimidazoles, quinolones, macrolide antibiotics, lincosamides, and praziquantel. The pork meat sample was prepared by extraction with ACN, and clean-up on a C(18) SPE cartridge. The sample was separated on a C(8) column and eluted with ACN, methanol, and formic acid. The MS/MS detector is operated in the multiple reaction monitoring mode, acquiring two specific precursor-product ion transitions per target compound. The method showed excellent linearity (R(2) ≥ 0.99) and high precision (relative SD, RSD ≤ 19.8%) for all compounds. The method quantification limits of 54 veterinary drug residues were in the range of 0.3-3.0 μg/kg. Recoveries for most analytes based on matrix-matched calibration in matrices were 20.9-121.0%. This method has been successfully applied for analysis of more than 100 pork meat samples from the local market; five of the 54 drugs were detected.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Acetic acid, Solvent, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, Pork, Methanol, Formic acid, Formaldehyde


Repeated nucleotide sequences combined with proteins called telomeres cover chromosome ends and dictate cells lifespan. Many factors can modify telomere length, among them are: nutrition and smoking habits, physical activities and socioeconomic status measured by education level. The aim of the study was to determine the influence of above mentioned factors on peripheral blood mononuclear cells telomere length.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Nutrition, DNA replication, Telomere, PBMC, Pork