Woody breast meat has recently become prevalent in the broiler industry in both the United States and European Union. Recent publications have described the meat quality characteristics of woody breast meat as having hardened areas and pale ridge-like bulges at both the caudal and cranial regions of the breast. The present study investigated the meat quality (pH, color, cooking loss, and shear force) and protein quality characteristics (protein and salt-soluble protein content) in woody breast meat as compared to normal breast meat. In addition, the differences in the muscle proteome profiles of woody and normal breast meat were characterized. Results indicated that woody breast meat had a greater average pH (P < 0.0001) and cooking loss (P = 0.001) than normal breast meat, but woody breast meat did not differ in shear force (P > 0.05) in comparison to normal breast meat samples. The L*, a*, and b* values of woody breast fillets were greater than normal breast fillets (P < 0.0001 to L*; P = 0.002 to a*; P = 0.016 to b*). The woody breast meat had more fat (P < 0.0001) and moisture (P < 0.021) and less protein (P < 0.0001) and salt-soluble protein (P < 0.0001) when compared with normal breast fillets. Whole muscle proteome analysis indicated 8 proteins that were differentially expressed (P < 0.05) between normal and woody breast meat samples. The differences in muscle proteome between normal and woody breast meat indicated an increased oxidative stress in woody breast meat when compared to normal meat. In addition, the abundance of some glycolytic enzymes, which are critical to the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in postmortem muscles, was lower in woody breast meat than in normal breast meat. Proteomic differences provide additional information on the biochemical pathways and genetic variations that lead to woody breast meat. Further research should be conducted to elucidate the genetic and nutritional contributions to the proliferation of woody breast meat in the United States.
Keywords: broiler; meat quality; whole muscle proteome; woody breast.
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