Yeasts are ubiquitous in their distribution and populations mainly depend on the type and concentration of organic materials. The distribution of species, as well as their numbers and metabolic characteristics were found to be governed by existing environmental conditions. Marine yeasts were first discovered from the Atlantic Ocean and following this discovery, yeasts were isolated from different sources, viz. seawater, marine deposits, seaweeds, fish, marine mammals and sea birds. Near-shore environments are usually inhabited by tens to thousands of cells per litre of water, whereas low organic surface to deep-sea oceanic regions contain 10 or fewer cells/litre. Aerobic forms are found more in clean waters and fermentative forms in polluted waters. Yeasts are more abundant in silty muds than in sandy sediments. The isolation frequency of yeasts fell as the depth of the sampling site is increased. Major genera isolated in this study were Candida, Cryptococcus, Debaryomyces and Rhodotorula. For biomass estimation ergosterol method was used. Classification and identification of yeasts were performed using different criteria, i.e. morphology, sexual reproduction and physiological/biochemical characteristics. Fatty acid profiling or molecular sequencing of the IGS and ITS regions and 28S gene rDNA ensured accurate identification.
Copyright 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.