In Japan, fast-growing broiler occupies over 90% of poultry meat production. Meanwhile, many of Japanese native breeds of chickens are on the verge of annihilation, because most of them have low meat yield and egg production. Recently, meat flavor produced from native chickens has been reevaluated in the Japanese market. Most high-quality chickens, “Jidori” in Japanese, were initially bred by crossing native Japanese breeds with highly selected lines with rapid growth rate or relatively high egg production. Japanese consumers recognize that the meat from Jidori chickens is more palatable than that from broiler chickens; however, the reason behind this rich flavor of Jidori meat has not been elucidated. We found that (1) the high arachidonic acid (ARA, C20:4n-6) content is a characteristic feature of Hinai-jidori meat, (2) chicken meat containing higher levels of ARA is more palatable than that containing low ARA content, and (3) single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the fatty acid desaturase 1 and 2 gene cluster are associated with ARA content in meat. Our findings predict the beginning of a new era that the flavor of commercial chicken meat can be designed according to a commercial breeding program.
Part of the book: Application of Genetics and Genomics in Poultry Science