6-Control_of_Microorganisms_Feb7

These findings and the laboratory observations of the

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Unformatted text preview: ngi constitutively synthesize melanin [2], which is likely to confer a survival advantage in the environment [3] by protecting against UV and solar radiation [reviewed in 4]. Melanized microorganisms inhabit some remarkably extreme environments including high altitude, Arctic and Antarctic regions [5]. Most dramatically, melanized fungal species colonize the walls of the highly radioactive damaged reactor at Chernobyl [6] and surrounding soils [7]. These findings, and the laboratory observations of the resistance of melanized fungi to ionizing radiation [8,9], suggest a role for this pigment in radioprotection. The role of melanin in microorganisms living in high electromagnetic radiation fluxes is even more intriguing when the pigment is considered from a paleobiological perspective. Many fungal fossils appear to be melanized [10,11]. Melanized fungal spores are common in the sediment layers of the early Cretaceous period when many species of animals and plants died out which coincides with the Earth’s crossing the ‘‘magnetic zero’’ resulting in the...
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