Fungi and ionizing radiation from radionuclides

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2008 Apr;281(2):109-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2008.01076.x. Epub 2008 Feb 13.


Radionuclides in the environment are one of the major concerns to human health and ecotoxicology. The explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant renewed interest in the role played by fungi in mediating radionuclide movement in ecosystems. As a result of these studies, our knowledge of the importance of fungi, especially in their mycorrhizal habit, in long-term accumulation of radionuclides, transfer up the food chain and regulation of accumulation by their host plants was increased. Micro-fungi have been found to be highly resilient to exposure to ionizing radiation, with fungi having been isolated from within and around the Chernobyl plant. Radioresistance of some fungal species has been linked to the presence of melanin, which has been shown to have emerging properties of acting as an energy transporter for metabolism and has been implicated in enhancing hyphal growth and directed growth of sensitized hyphae towards sources of radiation. Using this recently acquired knowledge, we may be in a better position to suggest the use of fungi in bioremediation of radioactively contaminated sites and cleanup of industrial effluent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident*
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Fungi / radiation effects*
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Plants / radiation effects
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Radiation, Ionizing*
  • Radioisotopes / metabolism*


  • Radioisotopes