Chernobyl: Scientists surprised by fungus that feeds on radiation

  • In Chernobyl were for the first time radiotrophic fungi discovered
  • This new species of mushroom feeds on radioactive radiation
  • No matter how hostile it is to life: nature adapts to its environment

The mushrooms discovered in Chernobyl are a real sensation in scientific circles. The species was not only found for the first time, but can also be the solution to many other scientific problems.

What happened in Chernobyl?

It was April 26, 1986, 1:23 am: The Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in reactor block 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, near the Ukrainian city of Pripyat. Already started on April 25, 1986 the simulation of a complete power failure. What was actually planned as a test turned into a disaster incomprehensible extent.

Because of serious violations of safety regulations and design-related properties there was an uncontrolled increase in power, which then led to the explosion of the reactor and a fire.

A huge amount of radioactivity was released in the first ten days after the explosion, contaminating the region north-east of Chernobyl and many other European countries. The WHO identified around 4,000 fatalitieswho died directly or indirectly from the radiation. The most common cause of death is cancer caused by this. The IPPNW even comes to hundreds of thousands of deathsa total of millions of people are said to suffer from the long-term consequences.

What discovery did experts make?

Compared to humans, nature always finds a way to cope with the changed environment and to cultivate new life. Plants usually manage to do this particularly quickly, which can now also be observed in Chernobyl.

A type of fungus has settled right next to the reactor and seems not only to endure the radioactivity, but even to feed on it. That the fungus grows right in the ruins of the nuclear reactor seems like a miracle, because it is one of the most polluted places on the planet.

Unilad now has a report released after the fungus per day receives such a high dose of radioactive radiation as exists on the surface of the planet Mars. This is of course an extremely exciting discovery for all researchers, as it opens up many new possibilities.

How does the fungus feed on radiation?

The fungus belongs to the black fungus genus and was discovered just five years after the disaster. For a long time, people were at a loss as to how the fungus survived the radiation. In fact, the fungus continued to grow despite the radiation, which is why it was thought at some point that it could feed on it.

Meanwhile, this behavior is on the large amounts of melanin returnedwhich are contained in the fungus and ensure that this absorbed the rays. The radiation does not damage the fungus, it does uses it as an energy source.

This works in a similar way to photosynthesis, except that carbon dioxide and chlorophyll are not converted into oxygen and glucose, but the ionizing radiation – the process is radiosynthesis.

How to use this mushroom?

The fungus was subsequently taken to the International Space Station ISS and is intended to protect it from cosmic radiation. At the same time, scientists are striving for further possible applications: This is how the fungus be used as medicinefor example as sunscreen against radioactivity.

This could Employees in nuclear power plants or airplanes be protected from the amount of radiation. Likewise, it could help cancer patients who are to undergo radiation therapy.

The conversion power could even be used to power electrical devices. So you would have found a renewable energy. Whether the fungus is really capable of all this is currently being researched further.

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