The genes of ectoine biosynthesis pathway were identified in six species of aerobic, slightly halophilic bacteria utilizing methane, methanol or methylamine. Two types of ectoine gene cluster organization were revealed in the methylotrophs. The gene cluster ectABC coding for diaminobutyric acid (DABA) acetyltransferase (EctA), DABA aminotransferase (EctB) and ectoine synthase (EctC) was found in methanotrophs Methylobacter marinus 7C and Methylomicrobium kenyense AMO1(T). In methanotroph Methylomicrobium alcaliphilum ML1, methanol-utilizers Methylophaga thalassica 33146(T) , Methylophaga alcalica M8 and methylamine-utilizer Methylarcula marina h1(T), the genes forming the ectABC-ask operon are preceded by ectR, encoding a putative transcriptional regulatory protein EctR. Phylogenetic relationships of the Ect proteins do not correlate with phylogenetic affiliation of the strains, thus implying that the ability of methylotrophs to produce ectoine is most likely the result of a horizontal transfer event.