A screening method was developed to elucidate the ability of different yeast strains to utilize phytic acid as sole phosphorus source. The growth test in liquid culture in a microtiter plate with phytic acid as sole phosphorus source was shown to be a reliable, fast and easy-to-use screening method. We tested 122 strains from 61 species with our method and observed growth differences among species and strains that were not detectable on solid medium. Specific phytase activities were measured for 10 yeasts strains, selected due to their strong growth in the liquid medium. Strains of Arxula adeninivorans and Pichia anomala reached the highest volumetric phytase activities. Arxula adeninivorans also displayed the highest intra- and extracellular specific activities. There were large differences in both extra- and intracellular phytase activities among species. Strain-specific extracellular phytase activities were detected in P. anomala. The presence of free phosphate in the media completely suppressed the extracellular phytase activity and also reduced intracellular phytase activity for all tested yeast strains.