Biocatalysis, biodegradation and bioinformatics are prominent scientific fields in industrial microbiology and biotechnology. This paper describes developments in these fields with a focus on the role of David T Gibson as a researcher and mentor. He has pioneered studies on the mechanisms by which aerobic microorganisms transform aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, his research has served as a model for further investigations into bacterial atrazine and dichloromethane catabolism described here. Microbial catabolism research requires information on organic chemistry, microorganisms, metabolic pathways, catabolic genes, and enzymes. These information needs are now being met more comprehensively by development of the University of Minnesota Biocatalysis/Biodegradation Database.