AbstractIt is ironic to think that the venerable pulp and paper industry is now considering ways to degrade cellulose. This notion can be understood as a way that the industry can face a protracted downturn in profitability and ever-mounting socio-economic pressures to enhance the efficiency of biofuels production. Many approaches have been recently taken to deconstruct cellulosic biomass, but this Editorial explores one key that may start to explain the increasing momentum in the biofuels community – biotechnology. Two approaches appear to be possible as scientists search for an effective way to unzip cellulose to its key constituents through the use of biotechnology. On the one hand, there are efforts to re-engineer the chemical composition of the tree, rendering it more digestible by enzymes and decreasing the need for mechanical or chemical pretreatment. On the other hand, what we are learning about lignocellulose biosynthesis can be of potential help in designing more efficient systems to essentially reverse that process.