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Bio reaction Engineering:
From Bioprocess Design to Systems Biology
Biotechnology is a key factor in the development and implementation of processes for the
manufacture of new food products, animal feedstuffs, pharmaceuticals, and a number of speciality
products through the application of microbiology, enzyme technology, and engineering disciplines
such as reaction engineering and separation technology. With the introduction of the so-called
"new" biotechnologies since 1970, directed manipulation of the cell's genetic machinery through
recombinant DNA techniques and cell fusion became possible. This has fundamentally expanded
the potential for biological systems to make important biological molecules that cannot be produced
by other means. Existing industrial organisms can be systematically altered to produce useful
products in cost-efficient and environmentally acceptable ways. Thus, progress in genetic
engineering has led to directed genetic changes through recombinant DNA technology, which
allows a far more rational approach to strain improvement than by classical methods. This is
referred to as
metabolic engineering
(Bailey, 1991), and in recent years, metabolic engineering
has been
applied
for
improvement
of many
different
microbial
fermentation processes
(Ostergaard
et al.y
2000; Nielsen, 2001). Initially, metabolic engineering was simply the
technological manifestation of molecular biology, but with the rapid development in new
analytical techniques, in cloning techniques, and in theoretical tools for analysis of biological
data, it has become possible to rapidly introduce directed genetic changes and subsequently
analyze the consequences of the introduced changes at the cellular level. Often the analysis will
point towards an additional genetic change that may be required to further improve the cellular
performance, and metabolic engineering therefore involves a cyclic operation with a close
integration between analysis of the cellular function and genetic engineering.
The pervasive influence that biotechnology is bound to have on everyday life in the 21st century is
recognized by scientists, industrialists, and politicians in industrialized countries and certainly also
in the less industrially developed countries of the world, where biotechnology will lead to
revolutionary changes in traditional agricultural economies. In order to reap the benefits of
development in biology there is, however, an urgent need for industrial microbiologists with
experience in solving quantitative problems, particularly as applied to industrial bioreactors. Such
persons have traditionally been referred to as biochemical engineers or bioprocess engineers. They
should ideally combine a generalist’s knowledge of the major topics in molecular biology,
microbial physiology, and process engineering with an expert's insight into one particular field.
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