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The exploitation of petroleum as energy and material source opened unprecedented possibilities for the development of our human societies, but only now we realize that the use of fossil resources comes at devastatingly high environmental costs. Consequently, our efforts to tap other carbon sources are steadily increasing. Industrial microbiology has the potential to use carbon dioxide directly as carbon source, thereby converting a foe into a friend. This thematic issue of FEMS Microbiology Letters sheds some light on recent developments for the understanding of microbial pathways for carbon dioxide fixation and on strategies for their industrial exploitation.