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Three naphthalene-degrading strains were isolated from compost, characterized by morphological and physiological properties and differentiated by 16S rDNA RFLP. During growth on naphthalene, Pseudomonas aeruginosa 2NR produced ortho catechol pathway intermediates and gentisic acid. The ability to accumulate and degrade gentisic acid shows that Ps. aeruginosa 2NR has a different salicylate pathway to that of the intensely studied Ps. putida NCIB 9816. Molecular analysis showed the presence both of genes of the upper naphthalene pathway and genes of the ortho and meta catechol pathways. The insertion of nagH and nagG, coding for salicylate 5-hydroxylase in Pseudomonas sp. U2, was absent in Ps. aeruginosa 2NR, as in Ps. putida NCIMB 9816.