Frontiers Microbiol 11_430 - EAltermann 200320.pdf (492.5 kB)

Grand challenges in microbiotechnology: Through the prism of microbiotechnology

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posted on 2023-05-03, 19:23 authored by Eric Altermann, William Hickey
Microbes have conquered almost every conceivable space on earth—from high atmospheres to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to extreme places such as geothermal vents in the deep sea, oil reservoirs, or boiling hot springs. Survival in these varied environments necessitates a breathtaking span of genetic diversity, enabling the metabolism and synthesis of many different substrates for both energy creation and biomass buildup and to gain an evolutionary advantage over other life forms sharing the same ecosystem. Of particular biotechnological interest are molecules referred to as secondary metabolites that often feature a unique chemical makeup and can encompass functions such as ion scavenging, quorum sensing, or act as antimicrobials. With the advent of anthropogenic impacts on our planet, such as the change or creation of new ecosystems (e.g., waste water treatment plants, large scale commercial fermentation processes) or the deposition of novel compounds and toxic pollutants into the environment, microbes have shown remarkable adaptability to utilize these newly introduced materials as novel sources of energy. It is this surprisingly vast and adaptable biochemical potential of microbes that we have come to realize and exploit for specific tasks ranging from fermentation processes modifying material properties, to the manufacture of high-value stereospecific chemicals and polymers, to the breakdown of hazardous substances. The application of microbes to industrial processes is commonly known as Microbiotechology. Under this umbrella, many different subareas are combined and have been explored over the last decade in Frontiers in Microbiology specialty section on “Microbiotechnology” (previously “Microbiotechnology, Ecotoxicology and Bioremediation”).


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Copyright © 2020 Altermann and Hickey. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


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Journal title

Frontiers in Microbiology




Altermann, E., & Hickey, W. J. (2020). Grand challenges in microbiotechnology: Through the prism of microbiotechnology. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, 430. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.00430