Numerous bacteria entered the viable but non-culturable state due to the stresses of dry and salt in soils. YeaZ of Gram-negative bacteria is a resuscitation promoting factor (Rpf) homologous protein could resuscitate bacteria of natural environment in VBNC state. To investigate the promoting effect of YeaZ on the isolation of viable but non-culturable (VBNC) bacteria from soil samples in extreme environments, the recombinant YeaZ of Vibrio harveyi was prepared and added to the soil samples from volcanic soil and saline soil in Northwest China. The study has shown that YeaZ can promote the recovery and growth of soil microorganisms, and the number of cultivable bacteria in volcanic and saline soil has increased from 0.17 x 10.sup.3 and 2.03 x 10.sup.3 cfu·ml.sup.-1 to 1.00 x 10.sup.3 and 5.55 x 10.sup.3 cfu·ml.sup.-1 , respectively. The 16S rDNA gene sequencing and phylogenetic analysis showed that YeaZ played an essential role in the increase of composition and diversity of bacteria. A total of 13 bacterial strains were isolated from the volcanic soil samples, which belong to phyla Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Gamma-proteobacteria. Four species, including Ornithinimicrobium kibberense, Agrococcus citreus, Stenotrophomonas rhizophila and Pseudomonas zhaodongensis were found in the control group, while Micrococcus antarcticus, Kocuria rose, Salinibacterium xinjiangense, Planococcus antarcticus, Ornithinimicrobium kibberense and Pseudomonas zhaodongensis were isolated from the treatment groups (addition of YeaZ). Twenty-one strains were isolated from the saline soil samples, including eight species from the control group and thirteen species from the treatment groups, among which nine species were only found, including Bacillus oceanisediminis, Brevibacillus brevis, Paenibacillus xylanilyticus, Microbacterium maritypicum, B. subtilis, B. alcalophilus, B. niabensis, Oceanimonas doudoroffii and Zobellella taiwanensis. The results suggest that addition of YeaZ to soil samples can promote the recovery of VBNC. This method has the implications for the discovery of VBNC bacteria that have potential environmental functions.