Dimethylsulfide (DMS)-degrading enrichment cultures were established from samples of coastal seawater, nonaxenic Emiliania huxleyi cultures, and mixed marine methyl halide-degrading enrichment cultures. Bacterial populations from a broad phylogenetic range were identified in the mixed DMS-degrading enrichment cultures by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Sequences of dominant DGGE bands were similar to those of members of the genera Methylophaga and Alcanivorax. Several closely related Methylophaga strains were obtained that were able to grow on DMS as the carbon and energy source. Roseobacter-related populations were detected in some of the enrichment cultures; however, none of the Roseobacter group isolates that were tested were able to grow on DMS. Oxidation of DMS by Methylophaga sp. strain DMS010 was not affected by addition of the inhibitor chloroform or methyl tert-butyl ether, suggesting that DMS metabolism may occur by a route different from those described for Thiobacillus species and other unidentified marine isolates. Addition of DMS and methanethiol to whole-cell suspensions of strain DMS010 induced oxygen uptake when strain DMS010 was grown on DMS but not in cells grown on methanol. The apparent K(m)s of strain DMS010 for DMS and for methanethiol were 2.1 and 4.6 mu M, respectively, when grown on DMS. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of the biomass of strain DMS010 and analysis of peptide bands by mass spectrometry techniques and N-terminal sequencing provided the first insight into the identity of polypeptides induced during growth on DMS. These included XoxF, a homolog of the large subunit of methanol dehydrogenase for which a biological role has not been identified previously.