Awamori is a traditional distilled beverage made from steamed Thai-Indica rice in Okinawa, Japan. For brewing the liquor, two microbes, local kuro (black) koji mold Aspergillus luchuensis and awamori yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are involved. In contrast, that yeasts are used for ethanol fermentation throughout the world, a characteristic of Japanese fermentation industries is the use of Aspergillus molds as a source of enzymes for the maceration and saccharification of raw materials. Here we report the draft genome of a kuro (black) koji mold, A. luchuensis NBRC 4314 (RIB 2604). The total length of nonredundant sequences was nearly 34.7Mb, comprising approximately 2,300 contigs with 16 telomere-like sequences. In total, 11,691 genes were predicted to encode proteins. Most of the housekeeping genes, such as transcription factors and N-and O-glycosylation system, were conserved with respect to Aspergillus Niger and Aspergillus oryzae. An alternative oxidase and acid-stable a-amylase regarding citric acid production and fermentation at a low pH as well as a unique glutamic peptidase were also found in the genome. Furthermore, key biosynthetic gene clusters of ochratoxin A and fumonisin B were absent when compared with A. Niger genome, showing the safety of A. luchuensis for food and beverage production. This genome information will facilitate not only comparative genomics with industrial kuro-koji molds, but also molecular breeding of the molds in improvements of awamori fermentation.
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