The a-proteobacterium Sulfitobacter EE-36 makes the gas dimethylsulfide (DMS) from dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), an abundant antistress molecule made by many marine phytoplankton. We screened a cosmid library of Sulfitobacter for clones that conferred to other bacteria the ability to make DMS. One gene, termed dddL, was sufficient for this phenotype when cloned in pET21a and introduced into Escherichia coli. Close DddL homologues exist in the marine a-proteobacteria Fulvimarina, Loktanella Oceanicola and Stappia, all of which made DMS when grown on DMSP. There was also a dddL homologue in Rhodobacter sphaeroides strain 2.4.1, but not in strain ATCC 17025; significantly, the former, but not the latter, emits DMS when grown with DMSP. Escherichia coli containing the cloned, overexpressed dddL genes of R. sphaeroides 2.4.1 and Sulfitobacter could convert DMSP to acrylate plus DMS. This is the first identification of such a ‘DMSP lyase’. Thus, DMS can be made either by this DddL lyase or by a DMSP acyl CoA transferase, specified by dddD, a gene that we had identified in several other marine bacteria.