The prokaryotic communities of four salterns (Bingol, Fadlum, Kemah, and Tuzlagozu) in Turkey were examined and compared using the cultivation and cultivation-independent methods [fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and 454 pyrosequencing]. FISH analysis with universal probes revealed that feeding waters carried 1.6 x 10(2)-1.7 x 10(3) cells mL(-1), while crystallization ponds carried 3.8 x 10(6)-2.0 x 10(7) cells mL(-1) that were mostly haloarchaea, including square cells (except for Kemah). High-throughput 16S rRNA-based gene sequencing showed that the most frequent archaeal OTUs in Bingol, Fadlum, Tuzlagozu, and Kemah samples were affiliated with Haloquadratum (76.8 %), Haloarcula (27.8 %), Halorubrum (49.6 %), and Halonotius (59.8 %), respectively. Bacteroidetes was the dominant bacterial phylum in Bingol and Fadlum, representing 71.5 and 79.5 % of the bacterial OTUs (respectively), while the most abundant bacterial phylum found in the Kemah saltern was Proteobacteria (79.6 %). The majority of the bacterial OTUs recovered from Tuzlagozu belonged to the Cyanobacteria (35.7 %), Bacteroidetes (35.0 %), and Proteobacteria (25.5 %) phyla. Cultivation studies revealed that the archaeal isolates were closely related to the genera Halobacterium, Haloarcula, and Halorubrum. Bacterial isolates were confined to two phyla, Proteobacteria (Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria classes) and Bacteroidetes. Comparative analysis showed that members of the Euryarchaeota, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Cyanobacteria phyla were major inhabitants of the solar salterns.