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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Alteration of the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope composition of beef by substitution of grass silage with maize silage.

This study investigated the effect of substituting grass silage (C3 photosynthetic plant product) with maize silage (C4 photosynthetic plant product) on the natural abundance carbon (delta13C) and nitrogen (delta15N) stable isotope composition of bovine muscle tissue. Forty-five continental crossbred heifers were assigned to one of three diets consisting of 3 kg of a barley-based concentrate plus grass silage, maize silage or an equal mixture (dry matter basis) of grass silage and maize silage, fed ad libitum, for 167 days. Substitution resulted in less negative delta13C values (P<0.001) in lipid-free muscle and in lipid, and also a lower delta15N (P<0.001) in lipid-free muscle. Feeding of maize silage was clearly reflected in the delta13C of muscle, with each 10% difference in the dietary C4 carbon intake resulting in a 0.9 to 1.0 per thousand shift of delta13C in lipid-free muscle and a 1.0 to 1.2 per thousand in lipid. Minimum detectable mean differences (95% confidence, power 0.80, n=15) in this experiment were about 0.5 per thousand and 1.0 per thousand for delta13C of lipid-free muscle and lipid, respectively, and about 0.5 per thousand for delta15N of lipid-free muscle. The power analysis presented here is useful for estimating minimum isotopic differences that can be detected between any two groups of beef samples with a given number of replicates. It is concluded that carbon stable isotope ratio analysis of meat can be used to quantify C3/C4 dietary constituents in beef production.[1]


  1. Alteration of the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope composition of beef by substitution of grass silage with maize silage. Bahar, B., Monahan, F.J., Moloney, A.P., O'Kiely, P., Scrimgeour, C.M., Schmidt, O. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. (2005) [Pubmed]
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