[ RadSafe ] A very interesting article! Einstein researchers' discover 'radiation-eating' fungi

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Fri May 25 12:29:09 CDT 2007

Exactly what type of radiation are we talking about? 
Photons? UV? Radionuclides (as opposed to the
non-radioactive isotopes)?

--- ROY HERREN <royherren2005 at yahoo.com> wrote:

>  Public release date: 22-May-2007
> Contact: Karen Gardner
> kgardner at aecom.yu.edu
> 718-430-3101
> Albert Einstein College of Medicine 
>   Einstein researchers' discover 'radiation-eating'
> fungi  Finding could trigger recalculation of
> Earth's energy balance and help feed astronauts 
> Scientists have long assumed that fungi exist mainly
> to decompose matter into chemicals that other
> organisms can then use. But researchers at the
> Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva
> University have found evidence that fungi possess a
> previously undiscovered talent with profound
> implications: the ability to use radioactivity as an
> energy source for making food and spurring their
> growth.
>   "The fungal kingdom comprises more species than
> any other plant or animal kingdom, so finding that
> they're making food in addition to breaking it down
> means that Earth's energetics—in particular, the
> amount of radiation energy being converted to
> biological energy—may need to be recalculated," says
> Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of microbiology &
> immunology at Einstein and senior author of the
> study, published May 23 in PLoS ONE. 
>   The ability of fungi to live off radiation could
> also prove useful to people: "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," says Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova, associate
> professor of nuclear medicine and microbiology &
> immunology at Einstein and lead author of the study.
>   Those fungi able to "eat" radiation must possess
> melanin, the pigment found in many if not most
> fungal species. But up until now, melanin's
> biological role in fungi—if any--has been a mystery.
>   "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," says Dr. Dadachova.
>   The research began five years ago when Dr.
> Casadevall read on the Web that a robot sent into
> the still-highly-radioactive damaged reactor at
> Chernobyl had returned with samples of black,
> melanin-rich fungi that were growing on the
> reactor's walls. "I found that very interesting and
> began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi
> might be using the radiation emissions as an energy
> source," says Dr. Casadevall.
>   To test this idea, the Einstein researchers
> performed a variety of in vivo tests using three
> genetically diverse fungi and four measures of cell
> growth. The studies consistently showed that
> ionizing radiation significantly enhances the growth
> of fungi that contain melanin. 
>   For example, two types of fungi--one that was
> induced to make melanin (Crytococcus neoformans) and
> another that naturally contains it (Wangiella
> dermatitidis)—were exposed to levels of ionizing
> radiation approximately 500 times higher than
> background levels. Both species grew significantly
> faster (as measured by the number of colony forming
> units and dry weight) than when exposed to standard
> background radiation.
>   The researchers also carried out physico-chemical
> studies into melanin's ability to capture radiation.
> By measuring the electron spin resonance signal
> after melanin was exposed to ionizing radiation,
> they showed that radiation interacts with melanin to
> alter its electron structure. This is an essential
> step for capturing radiation and converting it into
> a different form of energy to make food. 
>   Dr. Casadevall notes that the melanin in fungi is
> no different chemically from the melanin in our
> skin. "It's pure speculation but not outside the
> realm of possibility that melanin could be providing
> energy to skin cells," he says. "While it wouldn't
> be enough energy to fuel a run on the beach, maybe
> it could help you to open an eyelid."
>     ###
>   Other Einstein researchers involved in the study
> are Ruth A. Bryan, Xianchun Huang, Tiffany Moadel,
> Andrew D. Schweitzer, Philip Aisen and Joshua D.
> Nosanchuk.   PLEASE NOTE: Upon its publication, the
> article will be freely available online at the PLoS
> ONE website:
> http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0000457. 
> ---------------------------------
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What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking,. . . avoid opinion, [and] care not what the neighbors think, . . .what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!” 
 "Time Enough for Love," Robert Heinlein, 1973

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

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