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Japanese Scientists Perform CRISPR/Cas9 Editing on Fungus Used in Sake, Soy Sauce Production

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Japanese scientists have developed a technique to do CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in Aspergillus oryzae, a filamentous fungus used in several industrial applications, including brewing rice wines such as sake.

By introducing plasmids carrying the Cas9 protein and guide RNAs for targeted mutagenesis, the scientists were able to get mutation efficiencies between 10 and 20 percent. The scientists, led by Jun-ichi Maruyama of the University of Tokyo, published their results this week in Biotechnology Letters.

A. oryzae is the latest filamentous fungus to get the CRISPR treatment. Other scientists have recently gotten the genome editing system to work in Trichoderma reesei and Aspergillus aculeatus. Filamentous fungi are used in a variety of industrial applications, including the production of sugar-degrading enzymes, pigments, and pharmaceuticals. A. oryzae is instrumental to the production of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sake, and other fermented soybean and rice products. Its genome sequence was released in 2005.

Genome editing could help increase enzyme efficiency as well as enzyme yield.