A halotolerant phenylacetate-degrading fungus Penicillium CLONA2, previously isolated from a salt mine at Algarve (Portugal), was identified as a variant of P. chrysogenum using the ITS-5,8S rDNA and the D1/D2 domain of 28S rDNA sequences. The metabolic features and genetic characteristics suggest that this strain belongs to a subgroup of P. chrysogenum, named var. halophenolicum. The presence of the penicillin biosynthetic cluster was proven by Southern hybridizations using probes internal to the pcbAB and penDE genes and sequencing of the pcbAB-pcbC intergenic region. However the pcbAB-pcbC divergent promoter region contained 20 point modifications with respect to that of the wild type P. chrysogenum NRRL1951. The CLONA2 strain produced non-aromatic natural penicillins rather than benzylpenicillin in a medium containing potassium phenylacetate (the precursor of benzylpenicillin) and was able to grow well on phenylacetatic acid using it as sole carbon source. Due to the ability of P. chrysogenum CLONA2 to degrade aromatic compounds, this strain may be an interesting organism for aromatic compounds remediation in high salinity environments. (C) 2011 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.