The deep-sea is one of the most mysterious and unexplored extreme environments, holding great potential and interest for science. Despite extensive studies on deep-sea prokaryotes, the diversity of fungi, one of the most ecologically important groups of eukaryotic micro-organisms, remains largely unknown. However, the presence of fungi in these ecosystems is starting to be recognised. Many fungi have been isolated by culture-dependent methods from various deep-sea environments, with the majority showing similarity to terrestrial species. However, culture-independent methods have revealed many novel fungal phylotypes, including novel fungal lineages recently described as Cryptomycota, which are suspected to lack typical fungal chitin-rich cell walls. Although true fungal diversity and its role in deep-sea environments is still unclear, the intention of this review is to assess current knowledge of the diversity of fungi in these ecosystems and to suggest future direction for deep-sea fungal research. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and The British Mycological Society.
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