Ionizing radiation: how fungi cope, adapt, and exploit with the help of melanin

Ekaterina Dadachova, Arturo Casadevall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

148 Scopus citations

Abstract

Life on Earth has always existed in the flux of ionizing radiation. However, fungi seem to interact with the ionizing radiation differently from other inhabitants of the Earth. Recent data show that melanized fungal species like those from Chernobyl's reactor respond to ionizing radiation with enhanced growth. Fungi colonize space stations and adapt morphologically to extreme conditions. Radiation exposure causes upregulation of many key genes, and an inducible microhomology-mediated recombination pathway could be a potential mechanism of adaptive evolution in eukaryotes. The discovery of melanized organisms in high radiation environments, the space stations, Antarctic mountains, and in the reactor cooling water combined with phenomenon of 'radiotropism' raises the tantalizing possibility that melanins have functions analogous to other energy harvesting pigments such as chlorophylls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-531
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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