The biodegradation of benzene, toluene, and chlorobenzenes by Pseudomonas putida involves the initial conversion of the parent molecules to cis-dihydrodiols by dioxygenase enzyme systems. The cis-dihydrodiols are then converted to the corresponding catechols by dihydrodiol dehydrogenase enzymes. Pseudomonas sp. strain JS6 uses a similar system for growth on toluene or dichlorobenzenes. We tested the wild-type organisms and a series of mutants for their ability to transform substituted phenols after induction with toluene. When grown on toluene, both wild-type organisms converted methyl-, chloro-, and nitro-substituted phenols to the corresponding catechols. Mutant strains deficient in dihydrodiol dehydrogenase or catechol oxygenase activities also transformed the phenols. Oxidation of phenols was closely correlated with the induction and activity of the toluene dioxygenase enzyme system
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