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Molecular insights into quality and authentication of sheep meat from proteomics and metabolomics

Sheep meat (encompassing lamb, hogget and mutton) is an important source of animal protein in many countries, with a unique flavour and sensory profile compared to other red meats. Flavour, colour and texture are the key quality attributes contributing to consumer liking of sheep meat. Over the last decades, various factors from ‘farm to fork’, including production system (e.g., age, breed, feeding regimes, sex, pre-slaughter stress, and carcass suspension), post-mortem manipulation and processing (e.g., electrical stimulation, ageing, packaging types, and chilled and frozen storage) have been identified as influencing different aspects of sheep meat quality. However conventional meat-quality assessment tools are not able to elucidate the underlying mechanisms and pathways for quality variations. Advances in broad-based analytical techniques have offered opportunities to obtain deeper insights into the molecular changes of sheep meat which may become biomarkers for specific variations in quality traits and meat authenticity. This review provides an overview on how omics techniques, especially proteomics (including peptidomics) and metabolomics (including lipidomics and volatilomics) are applied to elucidate the variations in sheep meat quality, mainly in loin muscles, focusing on colour, texture and flavour, and as tools for authentication.
From this review, we observed that attempts have been made to utilise proteomics and metabolomics techniques on sheep meat products for elucidating pathways of quality variations due to various factors. For instance, the improvement of colour stability and tenderness could be associated with the changes to glycolysis, energy metabolism and endogenous antioxidant capacity. Several studies identify proteolysis as being important, but potentially conflicting for quality as the enhanced proteolysis improves tenderness and flavour, while reducing colour stability. The use of multiple analytical methods e.g., lipidomics, metabolomics, and volatilomics, detects a wider range of flavour precursors (including both water and lipid soluble compounds) that underlie the possible pathways for sheep meat flavour evolution. The technological advancement in omics (e.g., direct analysis-mass spectrometry) could make analysis of the proteins, lipids and metabolites in sheep meat routine, as well as enhance the confidence in quality determination and molecular-based assurance of meat authenticity.


AgResearch Strategic Science Investment Fund (Consumer Experience: pathways to premium foods)


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© 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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  • PRJ0110115


  • English

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Journal of Proteomics



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