As an alternative approach to the production of L-DOPA from a cheap raw material, we constructed a hybrid pathway consisting of toluene dioxygenase, toluene cis-glycol dehydrogenase, and tyrosine phenol-lyase. In this pathway, catechol is formed from benzene through the sequential action of toluene dioxygenase and toluene cis-glycol dehydrogenase, and L-DOPA is synthesized from the resulting catechol in the presence of pyruvate and ammonia by tyrosine phenol-lyase cloned from Citrobacter freundii. When the hybrid pathway was expressed in E. coil, production of L-DOPA was as low as 3 mM in 4 h due to the toxic effect of benzene on the cells. In order to reduce lysis of cells, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was employed as an alternative, which resulted in accumulation of about 14 mM L-DOPA in 9 h, showing a stronger resistance to benzene. (C) 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.