Towards semi-synthetic microbial communities: Enhancing soy sauce fermentation properties in B. subtilis co-cultures

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Title: Towards semi-synthetic microbial communities: Enhancing soy sauce fermentation properties in B. subtilis co-cultures
Authors: Det-Udom, R
Gilbert, C
Liu, L
Prakitchaiwattana, C
Ellis, T
Ledesma Amaro, R
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Background Many fermented foods and beverages are produced through the action of complex microbial communities. Synthetic biology approaches offer the ability to genetically engineer these communities to improve the properties of these fermented foods. Soy sauce is a fermented condiment with a vast global market. Engineering members of the microbial communities responsible for soy sauce fermentation may therefore lead to the development of improved products. One important property is the colour of soy sauce, with recent evidence pointing to a consumer preference for more lightly-coloured soy sauce products for particular dishes. Results Here we show that a bacterial member of the natural soy sauce fermentation microbial community, Bacillus, can be engineered to reduce the ‘browning’ reaction during soy sauce production. We show that two approaches result in ‘de-browning’: engineered consumption of xylose, an important precursor in the browning reaction, and engineered degradation of melanoidins, the major brown pigments in soy sauce. Lastly, we show that these two strategies work synergistically using co-cultures to result in enhanced de-browning. Conclusions Our results demonstrate the potential of using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering methods for fine-tuning the process of soy sauce fermentation and indeed for many other natural food and beverage fermentations for improved products.
Issue Date: 3-Jun-2019
Date of Acceptance: 22-May-2019
ISSN: 1475-2859
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal / Book Title: Microbial Cell Factories
Volume: 18
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Author(s). Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Sponsor/Funder: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: BB/R01602X/1
Keywords: Industrial microbiome
Metabolic engineering
Soy sauce
Synthetic biology
Synthetic microbial communities
0605 Microbiology
1003 Industrial Biotechnology
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 101
Appears in Collections:Bioengineering

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