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J Biosci Bioeng. 2002;93(4):382-7.

Molecular breeding of Aspergillus kawachii overproducing cellulase and its application to brewing barley shochu.

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Research Institute, Fukutokucho Co. Ltd., Kurume 830-0063, Japan.


In order to improve fermentation of barley without addition of commercial cellulase, a white koji mold, Aspergillus kawachii IFO4308, was transformed with the egl1 gene encoding endoglucanase I (EGI) of Trichoderma viride and the endogenous cekA gene encoding endoglucanase (CekA). Transformants with egl1 under the control of the strong glaA promoter produced EGI in both submerged and solid-state cultures. However, the EGI produced in solid-state culture was unstable due to the acidic condition of this culture. A transformant N10 with two additional copies of the cekA gene exhibited endoglucanase activities against carboxymethyl-cellulose, which are 21- and 1.8-fold higher than that of the wild-type (wt) strain when the cells were cultivated in submerged and solid-state cultures, respectively. Cultivation of strain N10 in steamed barley for preparing koji followed by fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae resulted in improved fermentation assessed based on higher productions of ethanol, amino acids, and organic acids, the reduction of residual sugar, and the low viscosity of barley mash. The overall fermentation result for the transformant carrying cekA was comparable with that for the wt strain using commercial cellulase. These results demonstrate that acquisition of only two-fold CekA activity by A. kawachii in the solid-state culture allows us to improve the brewing of barley shochu.

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