Genetic and biochemical investigations on bacterial catabolic pathways for lignin-derived aromatic compounds

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Jan;71(1):1-15. doi: 10.1271/bbb.60437. Epub 2007 Jan 7.


Lignins are the most abundant aromatic compounds in nature, and their decomposition is essential to the terrestrial carbon cycle. White rot fungi secreting phenol oxidases are assumed to be involved in the initial degradation of native lignin, whereas bacteria play a main role in the mineralization of lignin-derived low-molecular-weight compounds in soil. There are a number of reports on the degradation pathways for lignin-derived aromatic compounds, but their catabolism has not been enzymatically or genetically characterized. Sphingomonas paucimobilis SYK-6 is one of the best-characterized lignin-degrading bacteria. It can grow on a wide variety of lignin-related biaryls and monoaryls, including beta-aryl ether, biphenyl, diarylpropane, and phenylpropane. These compounds are degraded via the protocatechuate (PCA) 4,5-cleavage pathway or multiple 3-O-methylgallate (3MGA) catabolic pathways. In this review, the enzyme systems for beta-aryl ether and biphenyl degradation, O demethylation linked with one carbon metabolism, the PCA 4,5-cleavage pathway, and the multiple 3MGA catabolic pathways in SYK-6 are outlined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lignin / chemistry
  • Lignin / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Lignin
  • Peptide Hydrolases