Microbial ecology and environmental biotechnology are inherently tied to each other. The concepts and tools of microbial ecology are the basis for managing processes in environmental biotechnology; and these processes provide interesting ecosystems to advance the concepts and tools of microbial ecology. Revolutionary advancements in molecular tools to understand the structure and function of microbial communities are bolstering the power of microbial ecology. A push from advances in modern materials along with a pull from a societal need to become more sustainable is enabling environmental biotechnology to create novel processes. How do these two fields work together? Five principles illuminate the way: (i) aim for big benefits; (ii) develop and apply more powerful tools to understand microbial communities; (iii) follow the electrons; (iv) retain slow-growing biomass; and (v) integrate, integrate, integrate.
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