Improved Feed Efficiency in Quail with Targeted Genome Editing in Myostatin Gene: Analysis of Gene Editing on Feed Intake and Fat Growth

Andrew Brower
Undergraduate (Animal Sciences – Health)
Dr. Kichoon Lee
Animal Sciences

The goal of genetic selection in poultry is to increase the amount of meat produced without increasing the amount spent on feed. A mutation to the Myostatin (MSTN) gene, a gene that negatively regulates muscle growth, has been found to increase muscle growth in various livestock and increase feed efficiency in pigs and cattle. By increasing feed efficiency the producers are able to generate more product, without having to purchase more feed, leading to greater potential revenue generated. The MSTN mutation in avian species is a more recent effort, so this study looks into how the gene interplays with various aspects of feed efficiency, feed intake (FI), body weight gain (BW), and fat growth of MSTN mutant quail. Measuring the quail at 10 day intervals from post hatching day (D) 10 to 40, WG of mutant quail were significantly higher (p<0.001) than wild-type (WT) at all measurements. FI of mutant quail were significantly higher than those of WT from D 10 to 20 (p<0.01) and D 20 to 30 (p<0.001). FI of mutant quail had a significantly lower feed conversion ratio (FCR) than WT only from D 30 to 40 (p<0.001). Based on these findings, on the whole (D 10 to 40) FCR was significantly higher in mutant quail (p<0.001) which shows better feed efficiency by the MSTN mutation quail compared to WT. This study also investigated fat percentage in MSTN mutant quail at 8 weeks and found that leg and caudal breast fat compared to body weight were significantly lower (p<0.05) than WT. A decrease in fat growth might be a reason for the better feed efficiency seen in the MSTN mutant quail. With the MSTN gene mutation leading to poultry that is more efficient and generates more meat with less fat, it could help producers better meet the demands of the market and secure a profitable future for the poultry industry, as well as appeal for consumer preference for lean meat.