Rhizopus oligosporus is a fungus of the family Mucoraceae that is a widely used starter culture for the home production of tempeh. The spores produce fluffy, white mycelia, binding the beans together to create an edible “cake” of partly fermented soybeans.
Rhizopus oligosporus produces an antibiotic that inhibits gram-positive bacteria, including the potentially harmful Staphylococcus aureus and the beneficial Bacillus subtilis (present in nattō), even after the Rhizopus is consumed. This supports anecdotal evidence that those who eat tempeh regularly have fewer intestinal infections.
Rhizopus oligosporus is more properly known as Rhizopus microsporus var. oligosporus.
- Kobayasi S, Okazaki N, Koseki T (1992). Purification and characterization of an antibiotic substance produced from Rhizopus oligosporus IFO 8631. PubMed