Aspergillus oryzae FaeA is responsible for the release of ferulic acid, a precursor of off-odor 4-vinylguaiacol in sake brewing
J Biosci Bioeng. 2021 Nov 20:S1389-1723(21)00294-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiosc.2021.11.001. Online ahead of print.
4-Vinylguaiacol (4-VG) is one of the most common off-flavors found in sake. 4-VG is produced from its precursor, ferulic acid, which is a component of the cell wall of the rice endosperm. The release of ferulic acid in sake brewing is thought to be mediated by feruloyl esterase produced by either Aspergillus oryzae or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To investigate the effect of FaeA, a feruloyl esterase produced by A. oryzae, its loss-of-function strain was produced by genome co-editing. The feruloyl esterase activity of the faeA-deficient strain was drastically reduced. Sake was fermented using koji with S. cerevisiae strain G046, which can convert ferulic acid to 4-VG. Fermented sake was analyzed by measuring the 4-VG content and sensory evaluation. 4-VG content was reduced to approximately 10% of that of sake fermented with control koji. Sensory evaluation revealed that 4-VG was almost undetectable. Our findings showed that disruption of faeA in A. oryzae is a promising strategy to reduce 4-VG off-flavors in sake.