Scientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered a fungi that uses radioactivity to make its source of nourishment. The upshot? Spacemen will eat this fungus when they travel to other planets. Yum!
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.
This is the second time I've seen this study linked (slashdot was the first), and I feel compelled to mention that one of the fungi, C. neoformans, is far from edible. It causes pulmonary infections and meningitis in immunocompromised people (AIDS patients, etc.). Furthermore, saying it "eats" radiation is somewhat misleading. It implies we could use these fungi to detoxify a radiation contaminated area, and we could do no such thing. They appear to utilize the radiation in a way plants utilize solar radiation, which while cool, isn't quite "eating," in my book.