Researchers at Adelaide University in Australia have identified a gene that explains a large increase in retail beef yield. While the gene, called myostatin F94L, isn't the only gene that influences retail beef yield, it has a large effect. Homozygous animals have 13% larger ribeye areas and 4% more total retail yield, according to the research.

The gene is most commonly found in Limousin cattle, researchers say. According to the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF), the gene's high-yielding form occurs in 83% of the Limousin breed, meaning 68% of Limousin animals are homozygous for the trait and 28% are heterozygous.

"This gene appears to explain a much larger proportion of the genetic variation of the (retail yield) trait than any of the currently available gene markers for marbling, tenderness or feed efficiency," says Alex McDonald, general manager of the Limousin Society in Australia. "The discovery of what appears to be a major gene, which can be used to increase retail beef yield in all breeds of cattle throughout the world, is an exciting breakthrough."

Negotiations are underway with an Australian laboratory to provide a commercial gene test for the F94L modification.