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Radiation Eating Fungus Could Help Feed Future Astronauts

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posted on May, 29 2007 @ 10:06 PM
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Fungi could eat dangerous radiation to survive, an unexpected finding that could one day help feed astronauts in space.
Or at least astronauts willing to eat a crawling fungus.

The research began with the discovery of black fungus growing on the walls of Chernobyl's damaged, highly radioactive nuclear reactor and collected by robots. The fungus was rich with melanin, the same pigment that gives human skin its color, protecting the skin from solar and ultraviolet radiation.

The researchers speculated that "just as the pigment chlorophyll converts sunlight into chemical energy that allows green plants to live and grow," so might melanin help fungi make use of ionizing radiation, said nuclear medicine specialist Ekaterina Dadachova at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The ability of fungi to live off ionizing radiation could 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," Dadachova said.
Casadevall also noted that the melanin in fungi is no different chemically from the melanin in human skin.


SOURCE:
Space.com


If it turns out that certain fungi can indeed thrive from the natural radiation of space,
this could be a great boost to en voyage resource production.

How tasty fungi would be is an entirely other matter altogether.


Comments, Opinions?



posted on May, 29 2007 @ 10:08 PM
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Why can't they just bring normal food?



posted on May, 29 2007 @ 10:13 PM
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Originally posted by Equinox99
Why can't they just bring normal food?


Well for long trips they just would'nt have the room to carry enough 'normal' food,
apart from that you have the whole issue of cold storage which would in itself require even
more room and be very heavy.

Long trips, like the current proposed Mars trips and other long trips, you have to be
able to grow your own food.



posted on May, 29 2007 @ 10:18 PM
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Radiation eating? How? Eating something that grows in such a place makes about as much sense as growing up a batch of Deinococcus radiodurans (toughest bacteria on Earth; likes to live in fuel rod pools in nuclear power plants) and tossing that down your hatch! Anything to prevent food spoilage! I say, if you can't send normal, nonperishable food, why send people into such a damaging environment? It's just meant to shock people into taking an interest in space because most people think science is boring. D. radiodurans survived the cold vacuum of space outside the shuttle. When it was brought back in, it grew merrily as if nothing happened!
Who needs mold when you can have "Conan the Bacterium"?



posted on May, 29 2007 @ 10:40 PM
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I understand that eating something that just grows inside a spaceship makes the issue of food alot simpler as you dont have to worry about carrying so much rations with you and will save up in the needed mass to push up to the orbit. Still I doubt fungus that thrives and lives from radiation can be too good for your health. If it is indeed perfectly edible and with some seasoning a possibility for rations I suppose its a great find, although I would imagine like any fungus those also need plenty of water or moisture but if radiation alone does the job I guess it is indeed a great find.



posted on May, 29 2007 @ 11:11 PM
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Originally posted by X-tal_Phusion
Radiation eating? How? Eating something that grows in such a place makes about as much sense as growing up a batch of Deinococcus radiodurans (toughest bacteria on Earth; likes to live in fuel rod pools in nuclear power plants) and tossing that down your hatch! Anything to prevent food spoilage! I say, if you can't send normal, nonperishable food, why send people into such a damaging environment? It's just meant to shock people into taking an interest in space because most people think science is boring. D. radiodurans survived the cold vacuum of space outside the shuttle. When it was brought back in, it grew merrily as if nothing happened!
Who needs mold when you can have "Conan the Bacterium"?


It does'nt eat it in the way that we eat food, this fungus uses the ionizing radiation in much
the same way as plant cells use light for power.

The fungi itself is not radioactive.

People must explore space themselves, can robotic probes do it, yes, but Humans MUST colonize
the solar system and eventually the stars, so they must travel out and through space.



posted on May, 31 2007 @ 11:30 PM
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I'm with you on the importance of space exploration but I know darn well how the public feels about such things in general. Sadly, each time I've brought it up, the reply I get is,"We have too many more important things to do here on Earth to be wasting money on that."
Pure ignorance! Most people have no idea how valuable space exploration and research IS!!!
I would gladly eat a little fungus if it meant a trip to space!
I think it's interesting that the same people who are against human space exploration tend to be in favor of the war in Iraq!



posted on May, 31 2007 @ 11:54 PM
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Wow, the chernobyl incident has one good outcome so far
Sounds interesting. Sounds credible. I can imagine the future austronauts using these fungi.

[edit on 31-5-2007 by ZikhaN]




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