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Pseudomonas putida GJ31 is able to simultaneously grow on toluene and chlorobenzene. When cultures of this strain were inhibited with 3-fluorocatechol while growing on toluene or chlorobenzene, 3-methylcatechol or 3-chlorocatechol, respectively, accumulated in the medium. To establish the catabolic routes for these catechols, activities of enzymes of the (modified) ortho- and meta-cleavage pathways were measured in crude extracts of cells of P. putida GJ31 grown on various aromatic substrates, including chlorobenzene. The enzymes of the modified ortho-cleavage pathway were never present, while the enzymes of the meta-cleavage pathway were detected in all cultures. This indicated that chloroaromatics and methylaromatics are both converted via the meta-cleavage pathway. Meta cleavage of 3-chlorocatechol usually leads to the formation of a reactive acylchloride, which inactivates the catechol 2,3-dioxygenase and blocks further degradation of catechols. However, partially purified catechol 2,3-dioxygenase of P. putida GJ31 converted 3-chlorocatechol to 2-hydroxy-cis,cis-muconic acid. Apparently, P. putida GJ31 has a meta-cleavage enzyme which is resistant to inactivation by the acylchloride, providing this strain with the exceptional ability to degrade both toluene and chlorobenzene via the meta-cleavage pathway.