The secret of PDO hams? It is in the DNA of pigs
It is genes that guarantee the quality of the product.
A study, published in Animal, suggests that the quality of Italian PDO hams depends on the DNA of pigs.
The result, obtained by combining genomics with phenotypic data of Italian Duroc pigs, will be useful to clarify the biological mechanisms of the delicate curing phase and to establish new quality parameters.
“Pig farming in Italy differs from that of all other countries in that it is based on the so-called ‘heavy pigs’, which allow us to obtain hams with the right traits for dry-curing”, explained Luca Fontanesi, a Professor at University of Bologna, who led the study. “In our study, we examined the 22,000 genes and 3 billion nucleotides that make up the DNA of Italian Duroc pigs, identifying about fifty genes linked to specific biological mechanisms”.
The genes selected by the researchers perform important functions that determine those specific quality traits identified at the national level for the selection of the best farm pigs.
The result may lead to the genetic improvement of the pig breed examined by improving its production traits. The study confirms that genomic research can become a useful tool to both preserve the quality of products and fight against food frauds.
The study was conducted by DISTAL at University of Bologna and involved Professor Giuliano Galimberti from Department of Statistics “Paolo Fortunati”, in collaboration with Iowa State University, National Swine Breeders Association, University of Molise, and CREA.