Scientists study the internal structure of shells looking for more resistant and healthy chicken eggs
An international research project, led by Professor Marc McKee, of the McGill University of Canada, has studied in detail the nanostructures of the eggshells of the hens, something that can help the genetic selection of the hens in order to obtain more robust, hard-to-break, and healthier eggs.
The nanostructure of the eggshells are linked to osteopontin, a protein that is also found in bones
The results of the research allow to better understand the development of the chicken embryos inside the eggs, a process that has been “optimized with surgical precision thanks to its evolution during millions of years of existence of these birds,” according to the researchers.
According to the scientists, the shell of the eggs is sufficiently resistant so that, during incubation, breakage is avoided.
Throughout the growth of the embryo, it needs calcium for the formation of its bones, an element that is obtained thanks to the dissolution of the interior of the eggshell, which in turn weakens to favor the rupture at the moment of hatching, when the live chicken lefts the egg.
The team of researchers has discovered that this process is possible thanks to changes in the nanostructures of the eggshell during the incubation period.
Scientists recreated the eggshells nanostructures hoping to obtain more hard-to-break and healthier eggs
“A better understanding of the role of proteins in the processes of calcification that strengthen the structure of the eggshell can have important repercussions on the food safety of these products,” said the study’s authors.
“Approximately, ten percent of the chicken eggs are broken, which increases the risk of food poisoning such as salmonellosis,” the researchers explain, adding that “understanding how the mineral nanostructures contribute to strengthening the shell can allow science perform a genetic selection of hens with the aim of obtaining more robust and healthy eggs.”
The study of the internal structure of the eggshell is complex because of the ease with which the nanostructures breaks. The international team of scientists has used an ion thinning system to study the internal structure of this material through microscopic electronics at the Canadian McGill University. The scientists hope their discovery will provide methods on how to make more hard-to-break and healthier eggs to prevent contamination when commercialized.