12 January - 20 June 2016

Scientists breed omega 3 rich cattle

21 May 2015

A study, carried out at Northwest A & F University in China, has found a possible way to breed cattle that are rich in omega-3. In recent years the level of omega-3 wanted in the diet has increased dramatically, as research into their numerous health benefits have been released. Unfortunately, these long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are not easily obtained in the human diet. In comparison, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-6 PUFA) consumed levels are high in the human diet, leaving an unbalanced ratio of n-6/n-3. It has been shown that a large difference in these values can have serious health effects including cardiovascular disease, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases to name a few. It is therefore an important task to try and find ways of decreasing this ratio.

The study looked into the introduction of the C. elegans fat I gene into the foetal cells of Luxi Yellow cattle, an indigenous cattle with a high beef yield. This gene encodes for n-3 fatty acid desaturase (FAD3), which causes the conversion of n-6 PUFAs to n-3 PUFAs. Transgenic beef cattle were bred as part of this trial via the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Of the 20 calves that survived rearing, 14 of them were transgenic positive and it was found that these cattle had higher levels of n-3 PUFAs in their muscle tissue. This caused the ratio of n-6/n-3 PUFAs to decrease by 82% (from 5.33:1 to 0.95:1) compared to the negative control group.

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