Fungi play irreplaceable roles for ecosystem functioning. They may adopt different lifestyles, for example saprotrophs, symbionts or parasites: some species are cosmopolitan with a wide distribution and others, thanks to their ecological plasticity, may adapt to harsh environments precluded to most of life forms. In stressing conditions, their role is even more crucial for the recycling of organic matter or favoring nutrients uptake. When the conditions become really extreme and competition is low, fungi focus on extremotolerance and evolve peculiar competences to exploit natural or xenobiotic resources in the particular constrains imposed by the environment. This paper focuses on three different cases of fungal life in the extremes: hydrocarbon-polluted sites, extremely acidic substrates, and littoral dunes, aiming to give few but significant examples of the role of these fascinating organisms in peculiar habitats and the valuable biotechnological potentialities of the abilities they have evolved in response to such constrains.
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