Many members of the sphingomonad genus isolated from different geological areas can degrade a wide variety of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and related compounds. These sphingomonads such as Sphingobium yanoikuyae strain B1, Novosphingobium aromaticivorans strain F199, and Sphingobium sp. strain P2 have been found to possess a unique group of genes for aromatic degradation, which are distantly related with those in pseudomonads and other genera reported so far both in sequence homology and gene organization. Genes for aromatics degradation in these sphingomonads are complexly arranged; the genes necessary for one degradation pathway are scattered through several clusters. These aromatic catabolic gene clusters seem to be conserved among many other sphingomonads such as Sphingobium yanoikuyae strain Q1, Sphingomonas paucimobilis strain TNE12, S. paucimobilis strain EPA505, Sphingobium agrestis strain HV3, and Sphingomonas chungbukensis strain DJ77. Furthermore, some genes for naphthalenesulfonate degradation found in Sphingomonas xenophaga strain BN6 also share a high sequence homology with their homologues found in these sphingomonads. On the other hand, protocatechuic catabolic gene clusters found in fluorene-degrading Sphingomonas sp. strain LB126 appear to be more closely related with those previously found in lignin-degrading S. paucimobilis SYK-6 than the genes in this group of sphingomonads. This review summarizes the information on the distribution of these strains and relationships among their aromatic catabolic genes.
2003 by The Applied Microbiology, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Research Foundation