, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 9–17 | Cite as

Occurrence of the black yeast Hortaea werneckii in the Mediterranean Sea

  • Filomena De LeoEmail author
  • Angelina Lo Giudice
  • Chiara Alaimo
  • Giusy De Carlo
  • Alessandro Ciro Rappazzo
  • Marco Graziano
  • Emilio De Domenico
  • Clara Urzì
Original Paper


The occurrence of cultivable fungi was investigated along the water column (25–2500 m depth) of four off-shore stations in the Mediterranean basin. An unexpected high abundance of fungi, accompanied by a scarce biodiversity, was observed up to 2500 m depth. The black yeast Hortaea werneckii, known to be one of the most salt tolerant eukaryotic organisms, was isolated for the first time from the Mediterranean Sea, and it was the dominant fungus present in seawater in almost all stations and depths, suggesting its ubiquitous distribution. Isolation of cultivable strains allowed their phylogenetic and taxonomic characterization, and demonstrated that almost all the retrieved fungal species should be considered of terrestrial origin, but well adapted to survive and reproduce at temperature and salinity conditions of the Mediterranean seawater.


Mediterranean Sea Deep-sea water Fungi Hortaea werneckii Black yeasts 



The Cruise and IAMC-CNR-related research were supported by research funds from the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) under RITMARE Flagship Project (2012–2016). The authors are grateful to M. M. Yakimov, V. La Cono, and M. Borghini for the seawater samples. We thank Mrs. Sherron Collins for her revision of English text.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical, Biological, Pharmaceutical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly
  2. 2.Institute for Coastal Marine EnvironmentNational Research Council CNRMessinaItaly

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