Haloquadratum walsbyi is frequently a dominant member of the microbial communities in hypersaline waters. 16S rRNA gene sequences indicate that divergence within this species is very low but relatively few sites have been examined, particularly in the southern hemisphere. The diversity of Haloquadratum was examined in three coastal, but geographically distant saltern crystallizer ponds in Australia, using both culture-independent and culture-dependent methods. Two 97%-OTU, comprising Haloquadratum- and Halorubrum-related sequences, were shared by all three sites, with the former OTU representing about 40% of the sequences recovered at each site. Sequences 99.5% identical to that of Hqr. walsbyi C23(T) were present at all three sites and, overall, 98% of the Haloquadratum-related sequences displayed </=2% divergence from that of the type strain. While haloarchaeal diversity at each site was relatively low (9-16 OTUs), seven phylogroups (clones and/or isolates) and 4 different clones showed </=90% sequence identity to classified taxa, and appear to represent novel genera. Six of these branched together in phylogenetic tree reconstructions, forming a clade (MSP8-clade) whose members were only distantly related to classified taxa. Such sequences have only rarely been previously detected but were found at all three Australian crystallizers.