Economically Important Products

Aspergilli have been used since prehistoric times as components of several Asian food fermentations. Members of the genus have exceptional protein- and metabolite-secreting capacity, and these physiological activities have been adapted to human enterprise. From a contemporary perspective, the most important economic impact is the manufacture of fungal products such as enzymes, organic acids, and bioactive secondary metabolites.

Modern fermenters are sterilizable and operate under aseptic conditions. They are frequently controlled by computers that monitor temperature, agitation, pH, dissolved oxygen, and other parameters. In general, wild-type strains do not work well in industrial fermentations. Yield of the product is low, and the strain usually is not adapted to the conditions of large-scale fermentation. Genetic strain improvement has traditionally been conducted by means of brute strength mutagenesis and screening. Although repeated rounds of mutagenesis and screening are generally successful, they are also laborious. Recombinant DNA techniques have revolutionized strain improvement programs. Aspergillus gene expression systems out perform and are cheaper and simpler than analogous animal or insect systems.

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