The impact of gut microbiome composition was investigated at different stages of production (weaning, Mid-test and Off-test) on meat quality and carcass composition traits of 1,123 three-way crossbred pigs. Data were analysed using linear mixed models which included the fixed effects of dam line, contemporary group and gender as well as the random effects of pen, animal and microbiome information at different stages. The contribution of the microbiome to all traits was prominent although it varied over time, increasing from weaning to Off-test for most traits. Microbiability estimates of carcass composition traits were greater than that of meat quality traits. Among all of the traits analysed, belly weight (BEL) had a higher microbiability estimate (0.29 ± 0.04). Adding microbiome information did not affect the estimates of genomic heritability of meat quality traits but affected the estimates of carcass composition traits. Fat depth had a greater decrease (10%) in genomic heritability at Off-test. High microbial correlations were found among different traits, particularly with traits related to fat deposition with a decrease in the genomic correlation up to 20% for loin weight and BEL. This suggested that genomic correlation was partially contributed by genetic similarity of microbiome composition. The results indicated that better understanding of microbial composition could aid the improvement of complex traits, particularly the carcass composition traits in swine by inclusion of microbiome information in the genetic evaluation process.
Keywords: heritability; meat quality and carcass composition traits; microbiability; microbial diversity; microbiome.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.