Unicellular fungi, commonly referred to as yeasts, were found to be components of the culturable soil fungal population in Taylor Valley, Mt. Discovery, Wright Valley, and two mountain peaks of South Victoria Land, Antarctica. Samples were taken from sites spanning a diversity of soil habitats that were not directly associated with vertebrate activity. A large proportion of yeasts isolated in this study were basidiomycetous species (89%), of which 43% may represent undescribed species, demonstrating that culturable yeasts remain incompletely described in these polar desert soils. Cryptococcus species represented the most often isolated genus (33%) followed by Leucosporidium (22%). Principle component analysis and multiple linear regression using stepwise selection was used to model the relation between abiotic variables (principle component 1 and principle component 2 scores) and yeast biodiversity (the number of species present at a given site). These analyses identified soil pH and electrical conductivity as significant predictors of yeast biodiversity. Species-specific PCR primers were designed to rapidly discriminate among the Dioszegia and Leucosporidium species collected in this study. ?? 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.