Extreme environments have for long been considered to be populated almost exclusively by prokaryotic organisms and therefore monopolized by bacteriologists. Solar salterns are natural hypersaline environments characterized by extreme concentrations of NaCl, often high concentrations of other ions, high UV irradiation and in some cases extremes in pH. In 2000 fungi were first reported to be active inhabitants of solar salterns. Since then many new species and species previously known only as food contaminants have been discovered in hypersaline environments around the globe. The eukaryotic microorganism most studied for its salt tolerance is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, S. cerevisiae is rather salt sensitive and not able to adapt to hypersaline conditions. In contrast, some species like Debaryomyces hansenii, Hortaea werneckii, and Wallemia ichthyophaga have been isolated globally from natural hypersaline environments. We believe that all three are more suitable model organisms to study halotolerance in eukaryotes than S. cerevisiae. Furthermore, they belong to different and distant taxonomic groups and have developed different strategies to cope with the same problems of ion toxicity and loss of water.
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