A kind of black fungus that consumes radiation was found inside the Chernobyl nuclear reactor back in 1991. The peculiar plant was discovered growing up on the walls of the facility, puzzling experts because of the severe, radiation-hulking setting.
Scientists ultimately figured out the fact that the fungi was not only immune to the harmful radiation, but it appeared to be attracted to it. Ten years later, researchers analyzed some of the organisms and estimated that it had a massive amount of the pigment melanin within, which is also incorporated, among other places, in the human skin.
People with darker skin tones are prone to have more amounts of melanin, which consumes light and disperse ultraviolet radiation in the skin. Even so, in fungi, it allegedly absorbed radiation and transformed it into some sort of chemical energy for growth.
The Fungi Thrives in a Radiation-Heavy Environment
In a 2008 research, Ekaterina Dudachova, then from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, wrote that the fungi lured by radiation were most probably not the first organisms of this type.
People’s attention to the happenings of the 1968 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which was the most terrible disaster in Earth‘s history, increased after the appearance of the massively successful HBO show Chernobyl.
The series, made of six sequels, features Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) working with, and ultimately against, the Soviet Union government that is frantically trying to cover the truth about the event, which took place during a midnight safety test.
“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,” the paper states.
The fungi suggest that there could be regions in the Universe, which we know nothing of, where organisms could thrive in radiation-heavy conditions.
Paula is an outstanding reporter for Henri Le Chat Noir, always finding new and interesting topics to bring to the portal. She mostly crafts Science and Technology news articles, covering everything one needs to know about those niches. Paula studied at Concordia University.