Ubiquitin C-terminal hydroxylase (UCH-L1) has been identified in few transcriptome studies as a biomarker coding for trauma and perception of pain in non-meat species. For the first time, real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay was used to quantitate the expression of ovine ubiquitin C-terminal hydroxylase 1 (ovUCH-L1 mRNA) from head-stunned Dohne Merino ewes and lambs presented for slaughter at a high-throughput abattoir. The correlation between ambient environment and quality of variety meats from those ovine species was also determined. The level of ovUCH-L1 mRNA expression found in lambs was high, based on the outcome of qPCR quantification. The effect of head stunning shows that ewes exhibited higher capacity to impede electric insults than lambs. Except for the trachea and heart, ambient conditions had a negative correlation with pH of most variety meats. Similarly, a negative correlation was observed between total colour difference (∆E*) for fillet and dew point. Saturation index of a few variety meats showed a moderate relationship with ambient temperature. Industrially, the results on ambient conditions are important for post-mortem control of pH, colour, and preservation of other physiochemical properties of variety meats. Findings from qPCR quantification indicated that ovUCH-L1 is a novel candidate marker for pain detection in head-stunned ovine species.
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