Production of methanol from aromatic acids by Pseudomonas putida

J Bacteriol. 1980 Jun;142(3):916-24. doi: 10.1128/jb.142.3.916-924.1980.


When grown at the expense of 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzoic acid, a strain of Pseudomonas putida oxidized this compound and also 3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxybenzoic (syringic) and 3,4-dihydroxy-5-methoxybenzoic (3-O-methylgallic) acids; but other hydroxy- or methoxy-benzoic acids were oxidized slowly or not at all. Radioactivity appeared exclusively in carbon dioxide when cells were incubated with [4-methoxyl-14C]trimethoxybenzoic acid, but was found mainly in methanol when[methoxyl-14C]3-O-methylgallic acid was metabolized. The identity of methanol was proved by analyzing the product from [methoxyl-13C]3-O-methylgallic acid by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and by isolating the labeled 3,5-dinitrobenzoic acid methyl ester, which was examined by mass spectrometry. These results, together with measurements of oxygen consumed in demethylations catalyzed by cell extracts, showed that two methoxyl groups of 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzoate and one of syringate were oxidized to give carbon dioxide and 3-O-methylgallate. This was then metabolized to pyruvate; the other product was presumed to be the 4-methyl ester of oxalacetic acid, for which cell extracts contained an inducible, specific esterase. P. putida did not metabolize the methanol released from this compound by hydrolysis. Support for the proposed reaction sequence was obtained by isolating mutants which, although able to convert 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzoic acid into 3-O-methylgallic acid, were unable to use either compound for growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme Induction
  • Esterases / biosynthesis
  • Gallic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Gallic Acid / metabolism
  • Methanol / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Oxaloacetates / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas / enzymology
  • Pseudomonas / metabolism*


  • Oxaloacetates
  • oxalacetic acid 4-methyl ester
  • Gallic Acid
  • 3-O-methylgallic acid
  • syringic acid
  • Esterases
  • 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzoic acid
  • Methanol