Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2022 Mar 3:zbac033. doi: 10.1093/bbb/zbac033. Online ahead of print.
The white koji fungus, Aspergillus luchuensis mut. kawachii, is used in the production of shochu, a traditional Japanese distilled spirit. White koji fungus plays an important role in the shochu production process by supplying amylolytic enzymes such as α-amylase and glucoamylase. These enzymes convert starch contained in primary ingredients such as rice, barley, buckwheat, and sweet potato into glucose, which is subsequently utilized by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to produce ethanol. White koji fungus also secretes large amounts of citric acid, which lowers the pH of the shochu mash, thereby preventing the growth of undesired microbes and enabling stable production of shochu in relatively warm regions of Japan. This review describes the historical background, research tools, and recent advances in studies of the mechanism of citric acid production by white koji fungus.