The koji mold Aspergillus kawachii is used for making the Japanese distilled spirit shochu. During shochu production, A. kawachii is grown in solid-state culture (koji) on steamed grains, such as rice or barley, to convert the grain starch to glucose and produce citric acid. During this process, the cultivation temperature of A. kawachii is gradually increased to 40°C and is then lowered to 30°C. This temperature modulation is important for stimulating amylase activity and the accumulation of citric acid. However, the effects of temperature on A. kawachii at the gene expression level have not been elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effect of solid-state cultivation temperature on gene expression for A. kawachii grown on barley. The results of DNA microarray and gene ontology analyses showed that the expression of genes involved in the glycerol, trehalose, and pentose phosphate metabolic pathways, which function downstream of glycolysis, was downregulated by shifting the cultivation temperature from 40 to 30°C. In addition, significantly reduced expression of genes related to heat shock responses and increased expression of genes related with amino acid transport were also observed. These results suggest that solid-state cultivation at 40°C is stressful for A. kawachii and that heat adaptation leads to reduced citric acid accumulation through activation of pathways branching from glycolysis. The gene expression profile of A. kawachii elucidated in this study is expected to contribute to the understanding of gene regulation during koji production and optimization of the industrially desirable characteristics of A. kawachii.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology