Sphingomonas paucimobilis SYK-6 is able to grow on various lignin-derived biaryls as the sole source of carbon and energy. These compounds are degraded to vanillate and syringate by the unique and specific enzymes in this strain. Vanillate and syringate are converted to protocatechuate (PCA) and 3-O-methylgallate (3MGA), respectively, by the tetrahydrofolate-dependent O-demethylases. Previous studies have suggested that these compounds are further degraded via the PCA 4,5-cleavage pathway. However, our subsequent analysis of the ligB insertion mutant, which encodes the beta subunit of PCA 4,5-dioxygenase, suggested that at least one alternative route is involved in 3MGA degradation. In the present study, we isolated the desZ gene, which confers 3MGA degradation activity on Escherichia coli. The deduced amino acid sequence of desZ showed ca. 20 to 43% identity with the type II extradiol dioxygenases. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis suggested that DesZ catalyzes the 3,4-cleavage of 3MGA. Disruption of both desZ and ligB in SYK-6 resulted in loss of the dioxygen-dependent 3MGA transformation activity, but the resulting mutant retained the ability to grow on syringate. We found that the cell extract of the desZ ligB double mutant was able to convert 3MGA to gallate when tetrahydrofolate was added to the reaction mixture, and the cell extract of this mutant degraded gallate to the same degree as the wild type did. All these results suggest that syringate is degraded through multiple 3MGA degradation pathways in which ligAB, desZ, 3MGA O-demethylase, and gallate dioxygenase are participants.