Cell biology of the Koji mold Aspergillus oryzae

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2015;79(6):863-9. doi: 10.1080/09168451.2015.1023249. Epub 2015 Mar 17.


Koji mold, Aspergillus oryzae, has been used for the production of sake, miso, and soy sauce for more than one thousand years in Japan. Due to the importance, A. oryzae has been designated as the national micro-organism of Japan (Koku-kin). A. oryzae has been intensively studied in the past century, with most investigations focusing on breeding techniques and developing methods for Koji making for sake brewing. However, the understanding of fundamental biology of A. oryzae remains relatively limited compared with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Therefore, we have focused on studying the cell biology including live cell imaging of organelles, protein vesicular trafficking, autophagy, and Woronin body functions using the available genomic information. In this review, I describe essential findings of cell biology of A. oryzae obtained in our study for a quarter of century. Understanding of the basic biology will be critical for not its biotechnological application, but also for an understanding of the fundamental biology of other filamentous fungi.

Keywords: Aspergillus oryzae; Koji mold; Woronin body; autophagy; endocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus oryzae / cytology*
  • Aspergillus oryzae / genetics
  • Aspergillus oryzae / metabolism
  • Cell Biology*
  • Food Microbiology / methods*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Genomics
  • Organelles / metabolism


  • Fungal Proteins