Biology of Marine Fungi

Volume 53 of the series Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology pp 133-158


The Mycobiota of the Salterns

  • Janja ZajcAffiliated withBiology Department, University of Ljubljana
  • , Polona ZalarAffiliated withBiology Department, University of Ljubljana
  • , Ana PlemenitašAffiliated withBiology Department, University of Ljubljana
  • , Nina Gunde-CimermanAffiliated withBiology Department, University of LjubljanaCentre of Excellence for Integrated Approaches in Chemistry and Biology of Proteins (CIPKeBiP) Email author 

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Solar salterns are constructed as shallow multi-pond systems for the production of halite through evaporation of seawater. The main feature of salterns is the discontinuous salinity gradient that provides a range of well-defined habitats with increasing salinities, from moderate to hypersaline. These present one of the most extreme environments, because of the low levels of biologically available water and the toxic concentrations of ions. Up to the year 2000, hypersaline environments were considered to be populated almost exclusively by prokaryotic microorganisms till fungi were reported to be active inhabitants of solar salterns. Since then, numerous fungal species have been described in hypersaline waters around the world. The mycobiota of salterns is represented by different species of the genus Cladosporium and the related meristematic melanized black yeasts, of non-melanized yeasts, of the filamentous genera Penicillium and Aspergillus and their teleomorphic forms (Eurotium and Emericella), and of the basidiomycetous genus Wallemia. Among these, two species became new model organisms for studying the mechanisms of extreme salt tolerance: the extremely halotolerant ascomycetous black yeast Hortaea werneckii and the obligate halophilic basidiomycete Wallemia ichthyophaga.