Researchers working among the ruins of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor say they may have found mushrooms that feed off radiation for energy. In other words, Godzilla isn’t real, but athlete’s foot is more dangerous than we’d ever imagined.
Scientists discovered the fungi five years ago when they sent a robot into the abandoned core of one of the Chernobyl reactors. Among other samples, the robot retrieved black fungi that had been growing on the walls of the reactor — proving once and for all that the robots and the radioactive mushrooms are in cahoots.
Experts say the fungi were feeding off the radiation in place of sunlight or something:
“Just as the pigment chlorophyll converts sunlight into chemical energy that allows green plants to live and grow, our research suggests that melanin can use a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum – ionizing radiation – to benefit the fungi containing it,” said co-researcher Ekaterina Dadachova.
Because they’ve never met an existential threat they didn’t laugh off at first, scientists are actually excited about the find. Here’s a good idea: Let’s eat it!
And radiation-munching fungi could be on the menu for future space missions. “Since ionizing radiation is prevalent in outer space, astronauts might be able to rely on fungi as an inexhaustible food source on long missions or for colonizing other planets,” noted Dadachova.
So apparently humans can grow mushrooms on radiation, but the only way to find truffles is with smell-sensitive pigs in the forests of Italy. Yeah. That makes sense.
Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation [Science A Go-Go]