Controlled Spoilage: Zygosaccharomyces rouxii and Its Use in Soy Sauce and Miso Production

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Floral colonies of Z. rouxii on growth medium (left), and Z. rouxii cells viewed using light microscopy at 1000x magnification (right). Photos taken by Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Microbial Evolution at Tufts University. Photos sourced from an online post written by Dr. Wolfe himself on

By Daniel Maffezzoli

Zygosaccharomyces rouxii is the lesser-known, but widely utilized cousin of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Z. rouxii is a species of yeast that is predominantly known within the food industry due to its capacity to spoil foods and resist typical preservative methods in food production. This microbe, however, is also used in various cultures to create food rather than spoil it. Z. rouxii is the principal fungus used in the fermentation of soy during the brewing process of soy sauce and in the production of miso -- two staple ingredients and traditions in Asian cuisine. Within the context of these two processes, this wiki page will aim to provide detailed information on the spoilage aspects of this microbe as well as the productive qualities that arise from these very same spoilage-inducing features that are detrimental to many food producers.

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Authored for BIOL 238 Microbiology, taught by Joan Slonczewski, 2017, Kenyon College.