Polyextremotolerant black yeast-like fungi thrive in moderately hostile environments where they are concomitantly subjected to several types of stress, such as toxicity, scarce nutrient availability, and high or low temperature extremes. Their ability to assimilate alkylbenzenes (toxic environmental pollutants) enhances their growth in harsh conditions, including on railway ties. Samples were collected using cotton swabs, premoistened with physiological saline, from 658 oak and concrete railway ties at six train stations in Turkey at altitudes ranging between 1026 and 1427 m. The samples were inoculated on malt extract agar supplemented with chloramphenicol, and incubated at 26 degrees C for 4 weeks. Twenty-four samples (3.6 %), 17 from oak and 7 from concrete (5.6 % vs. 2 %; P = 0.02), tested positive for fungi. Exophiala crusticola was found to be the most common species (n = 13), followed by Exophiala phaeomuriformis (n = 7) and Exophiala heteromorpha (n = 4). These results suggest that hydrocarbons, particularly creosote-treated oak woods, support the growth of black yeasts, some of which are opportunists in humans. (C) 2013 The British Mycological Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.