Nature is showing once again just how great it is. Scientists studying Chernobyl discovered that a certain black fungus is eating radiation inside the nuclear reactor in Russia. According to reports, the fungus was found way back in 1991 growing up the walls of the reactor.
Over a decade later, researchers tested some of the fungi and determined that it had a large amount of the pigment melanin — which is also found, among other places, in the skin of humans. People with darker skin tones tend to have much more melanin, which is known to absorb light and dissipate ultraviolet radiation in the skin. However, in fungi, it reportedly absorbed radiation and converted it into some type of chemical energy for growth.
The fungi reportedly absorb radiation and convert it into some type of chemical energy for growth. Scientists believe this mechanism could be used to make substances that both block radiation from penetrating and turn it into a renewable energy source. The fungi also indicated that there could be places in the galaxy — which we are unaware of — where organisms could live in radiation-filled environments.
Large quantities of highly melanized fungal spores have been found in early Cretaceous period deposits when many species of animals and plants died out. This period coincides with Earth’s crossing the “magnetic zero” resulting in the loss of its “shield” against cosmic radiation
US National Library of Medicine
The Researchers used gamma radiation from rhenium-188 and tungsten-188 to assay fungal responses to radiation, and gamma radiation from caesium-137 to look at the impact of radiation on melanin structure. This raises the prospect that astronauts could grow these fungi on long flights into radiation-rich outer space, suggests Dadachova’s colleague Arturo Casadevall. The fungi aren’t particularly appetizing, however — they resemble the mold on a dirty shower curtain.