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Biotechnology is increasingly recognized in society as a technology to improve the quality of life in a sustainable manner. In order to achieve this mission, a global vision must be developed. It is clear that priorities differ in various parts of the world. Natural resources, development of industry, and population density are key factors that influence the general perception of technologies. Although a general and real satisfactory agreement on the measures to fight global warming has yet been achieved, the impact and relevance of biotechnology in this regard can not been questioned.

It is clear that bioenergy and biofuel cannot solve the world's energy crisis or reverse global warming, but from a local perspective it can contribute a lot. What the public has completely overlooked is the progress in our knowledge of producing of biofuel and bioenergy. Two manuscripts in this issue are a prime example (Geier et al. [1] and Matsudo et al. [2]) of the constant effort in biotechnology to bring the vision of a bio-based society to reality. The understanding of how microorganisms tolerate organic solvent or alcohols is of great importance for developing an efficient production technology. In order to efficiently produce alcohol, it is essential to optimize the fermentation process allowing high titre, yield and productivity. Even most sophisticated engineering of the recovery processes would not be able to compensate for low production titres. A similar problem is the efficiency of converting light, using CO2, for the production of biomass, biofuel, or organic compounds. Although these processes directly affect the CO2 circle, at the current stage they are not energy efficient. A profound understanding of how CO2 is converted to chemicals would be the basis for further improvement and finally translation into practice.

... bioenergy and biofuel cannot solve the world's energy crisis or reverse global warming, but from a local perspective it can contribute a lot.

The most obvious impact of biotechnology on society is in the field of medical biotechnology, through novel drugs, and also the constant improvement of production technologies. This is achieved either through gaining insight into the so-called cell factory (Matsudo et al. [2] and Pearson et al. [3]) or by understanding how aberrant cells and tissues function (Berger et al. [4]). This understanding may then lead to new drugs or contribute to the development of personalized medicine (see also our recent Special issue on “Systems biology and personalized medicine” [5]). Another valuable contribution is the efficient production of drug metabolites. This is important for shortening the development time of the drug development cycle. In order to test drugs in animals or in man, reference substances for analysis of metabolites are required. Biocatalyis and development of the respective enzymes to produce such compounds is key for successful drug development (Geier et al. [1]).

Biotechnology Journal's broad scope covers the entire range of topics under the umbrella of biotechnology, which has become a melting pot of biology, engineering, biochemistry, informatics and other disciplines. We hope you enjoy reading this issue and it will be another contribution of biotechnology to our quality of life.

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Prof. Alois Jungbauer, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Biotechnology Journal, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

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Prof. Sang Yup Lee, Editor-in-Chief, Biotechnology Journal, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)


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