Streptomyces lividans has a novel DNA modification, which sensitises its DNA to degradation during electrophoresis (the Dnd phenotype). The entire gene cluster (dnd) involved in this modification was localized on an 8 kb DNA fragment and was expressed in a S. lividans deletion mutant (dnd) and in several heterologous hosts. Disruption of the dnd locus abolishes the Dnd phenotype, and gain of the dnd locus conferred the Dnd phenotype respectively. Extensive analysis of the dnd gene cluster revealed five open reading frames, whose hypothetic functions suggested an incorporation of sulphur or a sulphur-containing substance into S. lividans genome, yet in an unknown manner. The Dnd phenotype was also discovered to exist in DNA of widespread bacterial species of variable origin and diverse habitat. Similarly organized gene clusters were found in several bacterial genomes representing different genera and in eDNA of marine organisms, suggesting such modification as a widespread phenomenon. A coincidence between the Dnd phenotype and DNA modification by sulphur was demonstrated to occur in several representative bacterial genomes by the in vivo(35)S-labelling experiments.