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Biomanufacturing: history and perspective


Biomanufacturing is a type of manufacturing that utilizes biological systems (e.g., living microorganisms, resting cells, animal cells, plant cells, tissues, enzymes, or in vitro synthetic (enzymatic) systems) to produce commercially important biomolecules for use in the agricultural, food, material, energy, and pharmaceutical industries. History of biomanufacturing could be classified into the three revolutions in terms of respective product types (mainly), production platforms, and research technologies. Biomanufacturing 1.0 focuses on the production of primary metabolites (e.g., butanol, acetone, ethanol, citric acid) by using mono-culture fermentation; biomanufacturing 2.0 focuses on the production of secondary metabolites (e.g., penicillin, streptomycin) by using a dedicated mutant and aerobic submerged liquid fermentation; and biomanufacturing 3.0 focuses on the production of large-size biomolecules—proteins and enzymes (e.g., erythropoietin, insulin, growth hormone, amylase, DNA polymerase) by using recombinant DNA technology and advanced cell culture. Biomanufacturing 4.0 could focus on new products, for example, human tissues or cells made by regenerative medicine, artificial starch made by in vitro synthetic biosystems, isobutanol fermented by metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology-driven microorganisms, as well as exiting products produced by far better approaches. Biomanufacturing 4.0 would help address some of the most important challenges of humankind, such as food security, energy security and sustainability, water crisis, climate change, health issues, and conflict related to the energy, food, and water nexus.

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This paper could not have been written without the support of the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China and the Biological System Engineering Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia, USA. Also, it is partially supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fuel Cell Technologies Office under Award Number DE-EE0006968 to YPZ. Also, authors JBS and YHM were partially supported by Tianjin Municipal Science and Technology Commission for the financial supports of 13ZCZDSY04900 and 11ZCZDSY08400. Funding to YPZ for this work was partially supported by the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and the Hatch Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Correspondence to Yi-Heng Percival Zhang or Yanhe Ma.

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Tribute to Arny Demain, Industrial Microbiologist Extraordinaire Celebration of the 90th birthday of Arnold Demain.

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Zhang, YH.P., Sun, J. & Ma, Y. Biomanufacturing: history and perspective. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 44, 773–784 (2017).

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  • Advanced biomanufacturing
  • Biomanufacturing 4.0
  • Bioeconomy
  • In vitro synthetic biosystem
  • Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology
  • Sustainability revolution