Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is an important organic carbon and sulfur source in the surface ocean that fuels microbial activity and significantly impacts Earth’s climate. After three decades of research, the cellular role(s) of DMSP and environmental drivers of production remain enigmatic. Recent work suggests that cellular DMSP concentrations and changes in these concentrations in response to environmental stressors define two major groups of DMSP producers= high DMSP producers that contain ≥50 mM intracellular DMSP and low DMSP producers that contain less than 50 mM. Here we show that two recently described DMSP synthesis genes (DSYB and TpMT2) may differentiate these two DMSP phenotypes. A survey of prokaryotic and eukaryotic isolates found a significant correlation between the presence of DSYB and TpMT2 genes and previous measurements of high and low DMSP concentrations, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that DSYB and TpMT2 form two distinct clades. DSYB and TpMT2 were also found to be globally abundant in in situ surface communities, and their taxonomic annotations were similar to those observed for isolates. The strong correlation of the DSYB and TpMT2 synthesis genes with high and low producer phenotypes establishes a foundation for direct quantification of DMSP producers, enabling significantly improved predictions of DMSP in situ This article is protected by copyright.