Sphingomonas (Pseudomonas) paucimobilis SYK-6 is able to grow on 5,5'-dehydrodivanillic acid (DDVA), syringate, vanillate, and other dimeric model compounds of lignin as a sole carbon source. Nitrosoguanidine mutagenesis of S. paucimobilis SYK-6 was performed, and two mutants with altered DDVA degradation pathways were isolated. The mutant strain NT-1 could not degrade DDVA, but could degrade syringate, vanillate, and 2,2',3'-trihydroxy-3-methoxy-5,5'-dicarboxybiphenyl (OH-DDVA). Strain DC-49 could slowly assimilate DDVA, but could degrade neither vanillate nor syringate, although it could degrade protocatechuate and 3-O-methylgallate. A complementing DNA fragment of strain DC-49 was isolated from the cosmid library of strain SYK-6. The minimum DNA fragment complementing DC-49 was determined to be the 1.8-kbp insert of pKEX2.0. Sequencing analysis showed an open reading frame of 1,671 bp in this fragment, and a similarity search indicated that the deduced amino acid sequence of this open reading frame had significant similarity (60%) to the formyltetrahydrofolate synthetase of Clostridium thermoaceticum.