Scientists will study the "Chernobyl" fungus

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 25.02.2021

All iLive content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses ([1], [2], etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please select it and press Ctrl + Enter.

02 November 2020, 09:00

NASA announced the need to study black mold found in the closed area of Chernobyl.

During one of the regular inspections of the fourth power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the robot discovered a strange dark substance of unknown origin on the inside of the sarcophagus. The material taken for a sample was sent for research, which then showed: we are talking about a specific mold with a high content of melanin. Scientists theorized that the fungus had purposely "darkened" in order to protect itself from radiation. Until this moment, the staff of the Institute of Microbiology and Virology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kiev had been studying melanin-containing fungal colonies found in soil samples near the sarcophagus for about fifteen years. As it turned out, mushrooms not only resist the harmful effects of radioactive rays, but also accelerate their growth and development under ionizing effects.

NASA experts have also expressed interest in studying the "Chernobyl" fungus that can absorb radioactive radiation. Moreover, the American Space Agency in the future will conduct a number of experiments with the fungus on board the ISS.

A curious fungus in the form of black mold was found on the surface of the walls of an abandoned nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. Earlier, Ukrainian experts have already described this find, and it happened five years after the tragic accident events - that is, in 1991. Soon after that, scientists discovered the specific abilities of the fungal flora: it was able to absorb radioactive radiation.

Subsequently, a scientific group, consisting of world experts, was able to prove that such types of melanin-containing fungi as Cryptococcus neoformans, Cladosporium sphaerospermum and Wangiella dermatitidis contribute to an increase in biomass and accumulate acetate mainly in conditions with a radioactive level that is five hundred times higher than usual. Experts in the field of biology note that this means that fungal organisms transform the flow of gamma rays into a chemical flow in much the same way as the plant world uses photosynthesis to produce oxygen from carbon dioxide.

Representatives of the American Space Agency assume that this process can be used as the development of bioactive products that protect against radioactive solar radiation, or be used at other nuclear power plants. In addition, it is possible to use the fungus as an energy store, which can become a biological analogue of solar batteries.

It is still unknown when exactly the assembly and sending of the mold to the International Space Station will take place. However, there is information that such an expedition is planned since 2016.

Information provided on the website

You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.